There are those times, those events, which are markers in a life – events which must be recorded as they signal a change in who you are or your attainment of a goal.
In our family, your First Communion is one of those big events that is marked and remembered. Going through the old family albums I found a couple pictures from weddings or high school graduations or birthdays, but the event which seemed to be consistently photographed and celebrated in our family was a child’s First Communion.
This is Gram on her First Communion. I have that missallete that she is holding – it is written in Polish and Latin. There are not many photographs of Gram as a child. That this occasion warranted the taking of – and purchase – of a professional photograph I think highlights the importance of this occasion in her/our family. This would have been taken around 1923 as I think she told me she was 8 when this picture was taken.
Maybe it is because your First Communion occurs generally when you are seven years old – which is a time of movement from baby/childhood into the pre-adolescent learning years – that it carries such weight as a marker in this Catholic tradition. My son attended a Waldorf School growing up where they did not start to teach children to read until they were seven years old as they felt that humans develop in seven year cycles. At seven the child starts learning those skills and areas of knowledge that are the basis of their ability to function in their adult life. And in Catholicism, the regular communion with God on a weekly basis through receiving the communion host is what calls many adults into church each week. So their introduction to this practice comes at the same time they are being introduced into the world of learning. I love finding the consistency in understanding over various religious and cultural systems. But I digress – I want to share the lineage of First Communions in the family that brought us to Jesse’s day last Sunday.
My Grandfather had a much larger family than my Grandmother – so they seemed to double up on how many kids received their sacraments at one time.
This is Grampa and my Aunt Ruthie on their First Communion. The bow tie was wider than his head. Aunt Ruthie later married my Uncle Al and they were two of my favorite relatives. My Grampa was a great man in my eyes. I knew he was an alcoholic but it did not matter to me. I knew he loved me and I loved him and that was enough. Again – I digress.
This is my Aunt Gert and my Uncle Frank on their First Communion. They were also siblings to my Grandfather. Aunt Gert had polio as a child. If you look you can see the outline of her leg brace under her stocking. She was another crafter. When I would stay at my Great-Grandmother’s house, Aunt Gert and I would make yarn poodles that she would donate to raise money. I think it was for the VFW but truly I am not sure anymore. I just remember tying up those little packets of yarn to tie onto the coat hangers in different colors to make the poodles. But I digress (again).
This is my Mom on her First Communion. Now we are in the 1940s. The event still warranted a professional picture for the family – even though taking your own photographs had become much more common at the time.
That’s me at my First Communion. Now we are in the 1960s – but I guess you could tell that from the clothes worn by the spectators. No more professional photographs but now we have color. I remember being so excited to wear the veil. It was really cool and made me feel pretty. My church was St. Paul the Apostle, which I thought was great because Paul was my favorite Beetle so I really liked the name Paul. At 7 it all makes sense.
Fast track to my boys. Markus made his First Communion last year.
I love this picture. He looks so angelic.
And Sunday, Jesse followed in this long line of family members in making his First Communion.
Is that too sweet or what!! I know that family members are going to be reading this to hear about his day, so what follows are some pictures from his day – first in the church and later at Mexican Radio, where we went to celebrate with his beloved Aunt Cindy and his cousins Kaitlyn and Davey.
And as always to celebrate every great event – Tres Leches Cake!!
Jesse – you have now gone through a rite of passage that our family has shared for as long as any of us can remember. This marks a new phase – one where you are now taking on the activities in your church that will follow you into adulthood. May this act – which to me is an acknowledgment of the unity of the macrocosm and the microcosm that is life – bring you closer to all that is your history and your family.