Monday, May 24, 2010

A Celebration

C.T. celebrated her First Communion on Sunday.   I'm not sure of the religious significance of the event, beyond knowing that it takes place during a Catholic Mass.  Her parents invited us to share in the luncheon which followed, but spared us the church service.  We'd have attended, but being averse to formal religion and any activity which requires prolonged sitting on armless seats, we were not unhappy with the "party only" invitation.

She looked resplendent in her white satin dress.  Her tiara sparkled amidst her curls until the pressure on her cranium sent the jewels into mom's purse.  It was a small affair, with two tables of grown-ups and one for the kids.  What to do with the high school sophomore, sister of CT's playmate and baby-sitter extraordinaire? She had the dubious honor of sitting at the kids' table.  It was a well-behaved crowd (save for a little bit of spitting over the side of the balcony ..... into the wind... showing poor judgment as well as bad manners and causing much hilarity among the adults) and I'm not sure they needed a (young) adult presence, but she didn't seem upset in the least.  She was smiling, just like the rest of us.

Was she thinking back to her own First Communion?  Was she noticing that another generation was following in her footsteps?  Did she stop to reflect on the passage of time?  Probably not.  

I always like the linkage between the ages that is celebrated by these sorts of days.  Down through the centuries, C.T.'s relatives have stood in similar places and recited and knelt and  prayed just as she did.  There's something very comforting to me in the recognition of that fact.  The more things change, the more they stay the same touches on the edges of what I'm trying to convey, but it's more than that.  It's true that there is a rigidity to the repetition of the pattern, but there is also connectivity.  In these days when most of us live far from our families, these traditions help close the gap.

Relatives traveled from distant coasts to join in the festivities.  Her grandpa is a famous sports guy, whose hand dwarfed mine, making curling my fingers to return his firm grip a total impossibility.  It wasn't a dead fish handshake, I promise.  I did the best I could.  There was talk of horses and Chicago and Oakland and lots of right-on-the-edge sports rivalry patter.  The food was delicious, the ambiance delightful, and there was nothing over the top about it.  The men in the immediate family were in sport coats or suits, but the rest of us were in Tucson Casual -- more than flip flops and less than a heels and hose.  The whole thing lasted 2 hours.

TBG and I contrasted this event with the last not-in-our-family religious celebration we attended.  It was a Long Island Bat Mitzvah at a country club.  There were three bands for the 400 grown-ups, including female impersonators doing Donna Summer.  That was before dinner.  The kids had a casino, another live band, a t-shirt design station,  ice sculptures on every table, and dinner served three times during the course of the evening.  By 11pm we were getting pretty hungry; dinner finally concluded at 1:30am and then the post-prandial partying began.  As the club closed at 4, the guests went home to change clothes and then reappear at the hostess's home at 7 for breakfast and the party video.  The New York Times was also served. Neither one of us can remember the celebrant's name, let alone her face.

We may not remember C.T.'s luncheon in the same kind of vivid detail that the Extravaganza on the Island conjures, but that's just fine.  We'll always remember that we were included in her special day.  We'll remember her bright eyes and her loving family and her perfect speech to wrap things up..... with a big smile and a sweeping hand, she bowed from the waist and said "THANK YOU" in a clear and heartfelt First Communion Luncheon tone.  

Not too much.  Not too little.  Just right.