The spring morning dawned with a golden glow at the edges of the young boy’s window. Matty squinted his eyes, and reaching up, over his head, pulled at the shade tassel that reached past the window sill, and was a special delight to him… The tassel ran up to a crystal, through which a cord passed and connected to a wide bar that was also delicately fringed, in Victorian fashion… Matty loved to pull the shade up part way, in the early morning light, and watch the first rays of the sun glint through the sparkling crystal, and disperse, across the room and onto the wall, above his brother’s bed. When the sun got to the perfect height, the rays magically formed a rainbow, that shuddered and danced above his sleeping brother’s head, as the little boy tapped the crystal with his tiny fingers.
       Matty yawned, and surveyed the rest of the bedroom as his eyes became adjusted to the morning light. He glanced towards the partly open closet door, and peered nervously into it’s dark confines… His 6 year old blue eyes widened as he imagined the clown monster that had scared him, just months before. He no longer trusted the closet, and felt uneasy, whenever the light was dim, and the shadows protected the various monsters that he knew lie hidden and waited to devour him if he wasn’t careful!! Even though he had been assured that the monster with the glowing eyes was indeed just the creation of his godmother’s hands ( a clown puppet made from yarn, with little sequins for eyes), he knew in his heart, that the thing was evil, and only came to life when his mommy or daddy wasn’t there…
      The sun now drenched the room with light, and Matty pulled the shade as high as it would go, defeating the demons of the night and all their minions… He pushed at his blankets and sat up, on the edge of his bed, his legs dangling and his toes almost touching the floor, and the round, braided rug that covered the biggest portion of the shiny oak planks…
      
     Then, he remembered!! Today, finally was the day!! On the back of his little wooden chair where he sat to get dressed, a perfectly creased pair of black pants was draped. Hanging from the door knob of the closet door, was a little, black suit jacket and white shirt, and on top of his maple dresser was a new, white tie, neatly arranged on the delicate laced doily that covered the dresser top. Matty smiled… It hadn’t been a dream!! Today, he was becoming a lamb in the Catholic Church!! He had spent the last 7 months, studying the catechism and learning about God, and now, he was going to be closer to God, along with all the lucky boys and girls that were to receive the sacrament of the First Holy Communion…. He was getting excited, just thinking about it, and felt the urge to pee, so, he opened his bedroom door, and scurried down the hall to the bathroom, clutching himself and slammed the bathroom door behind him… He just made it, and the little boy jumped up and down until the wave of discomfort passed, and the sound of his relief echoed in the tile confines of the family bathroom.
     In the distance he heard his dad groan, and say, “Who was that??” Matty hunched his shoulders, and squirmed, then giggled, as if to respond, “I don’t know!!”
      The family now slowly stirred, awakened by the loud antics of the oldest boy… Matty could hear his sisters start to move around in their room, and then the baby started to whimper and then cry, gradually reaching critical mass, till the lid blew, and the crying was no longer cute, more like a wail of breathless need… Doors opened, as Matty flushed the white porcelain giant and ran for the safety of his bedroom, sure in the knowledge that one day that device was going to suck him into it’s swirling vortex, and he would find out, in unpleasant ways, what became of the toy soldier that took the journey, before him!!
     He closed the bedroom door, and noticed that his younger brother was still in a deep sleep, so he dove onto his bed and excitedly shook him, till the boy rubbed his eyes and smiled at his older brother who was tangled in the soft blue blanket and peering out, growling, like the neighborhood spaniel…
     The house was now a living creature, as kids tried to beat each other to the bathroom and lock their siblings out, and the dealing was under way… “You have 2 minutes, Dad growled, before your sister is swimming, so, move it!” Followed by, “She had more time yesterday than me, it’s MY turn to be first…” And then, Matty could hear his mom mutter, as she passed by his bedroom door, “One bathroom for 8 people… God help him find a better job!!”

      It didn’t matter today… Mom marshalled the kids into order, with various stern looks and vague threats, and, besides, this was a special day, and God was in the house, so everyone was expected to behave….. or else!! Little by little,  everything fell into place, as the baby was changed and fed, and the kids relinquished their rights to the only bathroom and emerged, with freshly washed faces, sometimes secretly scowling at the next kid in line…
     “Matty!!” shouted Mom. “Have you washed your face, and hands yet? You know that God doesn’t like dirty little boys!!” Matty squirmed, and struggled with his reply, but, finally, shoulders drooping, got off his brother’s bed, and shuffled slowly down the hall to the bathroom, where dirty little boys become special to God….

      There was to be NO breakfast this morning, until after the ceremony, so, all hands now dedicated themselves to donning their Sunday best, and helping the younger ones do the same… This, was quite a struggle, at times, with squirming kids, and all, but, today, a certain calm overtook the ritual, and, within a short time, the troops were ‘at attention’, and the final adjustments were being performed on the 6 kids… Shoes received the last touch ups- a little spit on a cloth and a quick buffing… Dresses were straightened, so that their slips were hidden, and hair was brushed and rebrushed, until every kid was perfect… Well, almost perfect! Matty never could get that ‘cowlick’ to stay down, no matter how much spit or water was applied!! His blond hair made him look like ‘Dennis the Menace’ at times… Mom was determined to fix it today, and even suggested a bobbypin, but, thankfully, Dad resisted, and Mom settled for a vain attempt with loads of water, and Matty’s hair was stuck to his head like glue, at least, for a while… He looked like a perfect little lamb, with his new suit, and spotless white tie, and before the family filled the station wagon, a few pictures in front of the blooming tulips were painfully taken… Dad had forgotten to put the new film in, and time was getting short, so, Mom was nipping at his heels until the deal was done, and the kids were in the car and headed for the packed church, in front of which the official ‘Holy Communion’ pictures were to be taken… They all arrived, by the grace of God, and in the nick of time, at the towering old church, just as the communion class was gathered and the headcount was under way, so that God would be pleased, and the picture could be taken….

      Little boys stood at attention, and secretly elbowed each other, while the little girls, dressed in gowns and veils, stood sweetly smiling at the gray- haired man with the camera and tried not to blink as the large flash blinded all the kids … The boys giggled, and staggered as if drunk, after the 1st picture, and until order was restored, and a 2nd picture was taken, for safety’s sake, as the proud parents watched and shot glances of stern rapprochement at the smirking little boys that might later regret their behavior….
  
    St. Mary Church was decorated that holy day, with giant baskets of white lillies, and white carnations, and every little boy was pinned with a white carnation and the little girls were fitted with white rose wristlets, that dwarfed their tiny hands… As the organ music played, the children marched, side by side, boy near girl, up the center isle of the church to the  AWWs of the congregation and the flash of the only allowed photographer, who was allowed to take pictures only before and after the actual service started… Matty marched proudly, to the front of the church and turned into the pew that was reserved for the boys in the class… A stern nun, stood at the pew and guided the now serious boys into their seats, her beads hanging low from her waist, clicking together as she moved, and serving notice that she was in control- God help anyone, that questioned her authority!! Well, anyone but a priest, of course!!
      The service was in Latin, and Matty dutifully repeated the prayers that he had learned at the proper time, and then, the big moment arrived, and the young boy stood at the altar and the priest held out the holy wafer and, blessing the youngster, asked Matty if he accepted the body of Christ…. The little boy looked up at the large man in the gold laced vestments, and said “Yes, Father” in a tiny, quiet voice, and opened his mouth and received the host, the Holy Eucharist, and became a lamb in the church…. A warm feeling filled the proud boy, as he turned, and marched slowly, back to the pew, his hands together, and pointed up, to heaven, in prayer. As he walked, he noticed his Mom and Dad watching him, and smiling, Mom with her eyes tearing, Dad with a smile of pride on his face and a wink for his son… Matty stiffled a smile, and sat down in the pew, next to a boy named Mike, and looked at the light that streamed through the beautiful, stained glass window over the altar, and prayed…. ‘God, thank you from my heart…. I promise to be a good Catholic, and be a good big brother, too… If you can help me, that would be good, too! But, only if you have time for me… I know that heaven is a busy place, so, I’ll try to be good even if you don’t have time…. Oh, and could you say hi to dziadek for me… Thanks… I mean, Amen!!’
       The organ shook the walls of the church as the children marched down the aisle and through the large oak doors, held by ushers on either side, the joyful music booming out the doors, announcing to the world, the ascension of the class to their new status. The congregation followed, and the children were gathered and hugged and kissed by their doting families, everyone smiling and congratulating the new communicants…

        Matty laid in bed, and thought back on the day’s events… After the church, the family had gone to the special Communion day breakfast that was held at the local ‘Aunt Jemima’s’, a pancake oasis, and great fun and food for everyone!!  The rest of the day was a blur, with visits to other parties at different relatives, and, by the end of the day, Matty was eager to get out of his suit, and just be a boy again… But, it was time for bed… So, the new Catholic boy, said his bedtime prayers, and wondered…. Would God talk to him, if he needed help?? What did He sound like?? Was heaven a pretty place?? If you went there, did your family get in, too??
       The tow-headed boy drifted off to sleep and dreamed… He was running through a field, full of wild flowers, and spinning and skipping, his feet and legs, full of energy and lift, as though he could run and  jump like a deer… Then, he felt the most beautiful warmth overtake him and he was floating, and strong hands were lifting him, higher and higher…. The most beautiful music soothed him, and he felt complete as if the world was of no significance… He understood pure joy, for the first time in his life, and he reached his hand out, and beckoned to the others, who waited for him, but, they smiled as a group, and he could get no closer, and the music was softer in his ears and fading, and he was back in the field, and running, but now, there were tears of joy in his eyes, because he knew….. He awoke, his eyes still wet with tears, and he said a morning prayer, content in his new understanding….

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