After close to 9 months of preparation, Kelsey made her First Communion on Saturday. The parent meetings, retreats, the Reconciliation, family lessons at home, the hunt for the dress, rehearsal, and many random discussions led up to the ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Despite my fears something (anything) would go awry, the day seemed to flow smoothly from one event to the next.
In atypical Jen fashion, I actually thought ahead and not only had Kelsey's hair appointment (for a cut) early in the week, but planned to have her hair done at the salon the morning of the First Communion. We need only show up with the dress in hand (the veil was already there) and Kelsey relaxed while Daniella worked her magic. I was able to relax, take photos, and not stress out over the fact that I was not able to get every hair perfectly in place. Much more fun for all involved!
Once Kelsey's hair was finished, she donned her dress and tights, and slipped into her shoes. Daniella's next client oohed and aahed over her as we exited the salon, and we hurried home so that I could get into my Sunday best.
We had a small window of time before we needed to be at the church, so Kelsey, in all of her finery, and Nicholas were able to Skype with Grandpa and Nonni Dinoia while I got ready. Grandpa Kirk, who had flown in from Tennessee (and missed the terrible rains and flooding throughout the state), picked up a last minute necessity for Kelsey, and we headed to the church. Since there were so many First Communicants, there were 7 ceremonies spread out over three weekends. Not only did this prevent overcrowding, but gave each family had their own pew at the ceremony, and views were rarely obstructed.
It was beautiful and touching. We had thought during rehearsal that the directions were a bit much, but all of the rehearsing paid off and there was nary a hitch. Despite the many directives the children had to learn in a short time, the mass seemed to flow smoothly. We were lucky enough to have the Children's Choir singing for the ceremony (not all will have the choir present) and the special surprise?
The Children's Choir director had written to me a few weeks before to ask if Cait might be able to cantor for two of the three ceremonies on Saturday. I gave permission, but realized that Cait might balk if her nerves got the best of her. I was so grateful that she not only didn't hesitate, but embraced the challenge, and sang with all of her heart on Saturday. I had so hoped that somehow Cait would be able to contribute to the ceremony, but had never imagined that sort of participation.
It was truly a family event, as unlike my First Communion, or Cait's, for that matter, both parents accompanied the child to the altar. When it was time for the children to receive the bread for the first time, all of the communicants and parents were on the altar together, forming a giant horseshoe (photo ops were minimal at best). We received communion together, listened to the children sing as a group, and then were dismissed after a hearty congratulations.
We were lucky that not only were two of Kelsey's friends (and their families) were able to attend, but that she was in the same ceremony (and across from) another schoolmate/CCD friend, Anna. We ended up merging our post-ceremony celebrations in quiet alcove at a local restaurant, and the girls were thrilled to have so many friends with whom they could share their day. Considering how our next few weeks may be a bit hectic, it was quite a relief to spend the afternoon enjoying a leisurely dinner with friends and family.