On Kind of Being a Townie

I love that Liam is able to grow up in the same area I grew up. When we explore many of the same places I went as a child, I feel that I get to enjoy them for the first time again.  I love that we get to enjoy such childhood favorites as Del’s Lemonade, Warwick City Park, and bakery pizza. This spring, Liam will make his first communion at the same church where I made my first communion many years earlier.


Somewhere, there is a picture of me in my first communion dress in front of the church. I’ve been searching high and low for that picture, hoping to recreate it with Liam.  These are three photos from my first communion that I have been able to find.

Yes, this picture is the epitome of everything the early ’80s had to offer. It is also a perfect representation of my mother’s motherhood and party planning style. First communions then were much simpler. The priest posed for pictures with children in the church basement after mass. Families went to the house for simple celebrations. There were no professional photographers or restaurant receptions.  After my first communion, we went to my house where my aunts, uncles, and cousins celebrated with me. We ate store-brand potato chips from plastic bowls and party pizza, happy just to spend time together. Anyone who knows my mom knows that, while she was the kindest, most selfless person in the world, she was not good at details.

My Aunt Dot scolded my mom for not getting a picture of me in my dress. My mom borrowed a first communion dress from the mother of a neighborhood girl who made hers the previous year. I took it off as soon as I got home from church. So here I am, freshly called in from playing in the backyard on my metal swing set, mismatched clothed and messy-faced.

The church gave each of us a plastic statue of a child at the altar. There were several plastic candles attached to the altar. In spite of everyone telling her they were not actually candles, my mother insisted they were real. She put it on my cake and lit the “candles,” covering the cake with tiny specks of burnt plastic. Speaking of cake, my mom was part of a huge family; that little cake was supposed to be enough to feed about twenty people.  Also worth noting about that cake was that I believe it was the first cake ordered for me. Typically, we made our birthday cakes, to be enjoyed at our at-home birthday parties.  I remember feeling very important that I had a cake made for me.

While I wish I had the picture of me in front of my church in my first communion dress, but I am more thankful for this picture:

Because my mom was always the one behind the camera, she left us with very few pictures together. This will be the picture I recreate with Liam in a few months.

As parents, we try to do what is best for our children. When I feel like I need to plan a big birthday party each year, complete with matching utensils and paper goods match, I remember my home parties with party pizza, hugs drinks, store-brand chips, and games of pin the tail on the donkey and clothespin drop. We don’t need to plan big, perfect events for our kids. We just need to be there to celebrate.

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