I didn’t know what to expect when our firstborn made his First Holy Communion. Of course I knew that he’d be accepting the Host, the body and blood of Christ, during mass that day but beyond that, there were a few unknowns. How would he feel about it? How would I feel about it? What, pray tell, do you get your seven year old son when he makes his First Communion? And how in heaven’s name would I pull off the post-Communion party in the midst of traveling for work and juggling our busy lives?
The answers, it turns out, are simple. As they often are. How did our sweet Liam “feel” about his First Communion? “It tasted like cardboard.” Can’t argue with that! And, such is the level of emotion routinely revealed by your average second grade boy. Why I continue to expect a response akin to “I’ve been spiritually renewed. I feel like a man now Ma”, I’ll never know!
As for my feelings, well, let’s just say the tear ducts got a good workout that day. For starters, in looking at my “baby” in a navy suit, I realized that the kid he is today bears a strong resemblance to the man he will be tomorrow – not literally tomorrow but, one day in a future that I know will come far too fast. As he posed for pictures with his pals, all shined and scrubbed and full of anticipation in their matching pint-sized suits, I knew I was looking at the same group of guys that are likely to appear when he is confirmed, graduated, and married. The spectrum of life’s milestones passed before me as the tears welled up in my eyes. And that was all before he walked down the church aisle with a lovely little lady Communicant in a white dress. It was beforeI sat in a pew, sandwiched between my parents and grandparents, with our three-year old triplets climbing in my lap thinking of how lucky we were to have four generations of O’Connor’s witnessing Liam’s special day. And then he said “Amen”, accepted the Host for the first time and beamed me a great big grin that really got the tears flowing. Tears of joy for my little boy.
As for the gift, well, the foreshadowing was in my husband’s remarks the day Liam was born: “He will be Catholic and he will be a Yankee fan.” As such, it was only fitting that we gave him a beautiful Celtic cross, straight from one of the Irish shops on McLean Avenue in the Bronx AND tickets to a Yankee game… a game to be attended by just the three of us – Mom, Dad and Liam. Needless to say, the kid was thrilled, “Just us?! Not the little guys?! Not Ciara? Awesome!” Which is not to say that Liam doesn’t love his sister Ciara or the “little guys” (his triplet brothers, Kevin, Declan and Cormac) but his response really underscored how valuable the time we spend with him and him alone truly is. More surprising though, was the fact that he actually liked his silver cross. He really liked it! He put it on right away and even asked if he could sleep in it… suggesting, perhaps, he has greater emotional depth about this right of passage than “it tastes like cardboard.”
As for the party, it came together, as parties always do. It was a family affair, low-key and intimate, as the best parties often are. I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to spend that Friday night ironing the tablecloth and prepping the salads but I’m glad I did. I’m glad we did; my husband Des deserves at least as much credit as I do for the successful soiree we had. It was as sweet and memorable as the cake that topped it off and the smile on Liam’s face as he dug in and remarked, “This is much better. Not like cardboard at all!”