WHEN Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh’s son, Comhghal, made his First Holy Communion, he wanted to look like James Bond.
“We got him the tuxedo. If it’s not going to be a ridiculous price, give them what they want. Life’s too short,” says the TV presenter, who is voicing a new two-part RTÉ series, Communion Day. This tells the stories of eight families preparing for the landmark day.
In programme one, the Cronins, from Cork, wonder whether eight-year-old Laoise, who has spina bifida, will be able to walk up the aisle to receive First Holy Communion.
In programme two, Dublin-based Marion Kelly worries her heart surgery will coincide with daughter Jessie’s Communion day. In Offaly, Dermot McLoughlin is worried he might lose factory job as daughter Ally makes her Communion.
The point is that First Holy Communion happens in the midst of the pressures and joys of life. Ní Chofaigh urges parents not to let the ceremony become a stress fest. “Any day out for the whole family is a big stress. You have to dress everybody, not just the child for Communion. You’re thinking about everybody’s hairdo. Whatever you do is going to cost money. Celebrating at home is cheaper, but it still costs,” says Ní Chofaigh, whose four children all had Communion parties at home, because it was “more comfortable and relaxed”.
“There are deals to be done,” says Ní Chofaigh, who says that she has seen “amazing dresses” that are “seriously good and reasonably priced” in some of the high street stores. She has heard “mad stories about fake tan and limousines” and says we presume our children want more than they do. “Often, the simplicity of putting on a long, white dress is enough,” she says.
The golden rule is to remember this is your child’s day, not yours. “It’s not supposed to be about getting a lot of wine in and making some adults happy. Why not think about limiting the amount of family to what your child wants,” says Ní Chofaigh, who recalls, on her daughter’s First Holy Communion, having a friend of the little girl along for the day, who wasn’t making the sacrament.
“My child loved it and so did her pal.”
* Communion Day begins on Mon, Mar 4, on RTÉ One at 9.35pm.
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