“What is that?” I stopped eating and stared at the thing in my little brother’s hand. It was flat...white…sort of round....
“It’s First Holy Communion!” said David. "I made it myself.” He must have torn bread from his sandwich and squished it. “It’s Jesus.”
“Get real!” I cried. “Bread becomes Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. With a priest there. That’s just plain old bread.”
“Let’s pretend! Eat it, Cheri.”
“I’m not eating that! It’s covered with your germs. And anyway...I’ll have the real thing at my real First Communion.”
Mom came in, and David held up the chunk of bread. “Look, Mommy!”
“He’s pretending it’s a host,” I told her.
Mom put a hand to her heart. “Isn’t that sweet?”
“I tried on my white shoes, Mom,” I said. “They’re too small.”
But David was just repeating the stuff I said about the Eucharist, and Mom was hanging on his every word. I would have to talk to her later.
At supper, I asked about my shoes again.
“We’ll buy you some new ones,” said Mom.
“Are you excited about your big day?” asked Dad.
“I can’t wait! We’re studying all – "
“Look, Daddy!” David interrupted. “I’m drinking the holy wine.” He sipped some cranberry juice, then wiped his cup with a napkin.
“That isn’t the real thing, you know,” I told him.
“I know,” he said. “Watch this, Daddy.” He flattened a piece of his dinner roll into another fake host and made Dad eat it!
Before I could answer, David ran up wearing a towel around his neck and carrying a bowl. "I'm a priest!" he shouted.
“No, you’re not!” I cried.
“He’s just pretending, Cheri,” said Mom. Like I didn’t know that!
David pulled a fake host out of the bowl and held it towards Grandma. “This is First Holy Communion.”
I thought David seemed disrespectful, but Mom and Grandma laughed like he was cute. Grandma ate the grubby chunk of bread, and David gave one to Mom, too, but I refused to play along. "It's not real," I told him.
“I know,” he said. “Now we’ll drink the holy wine.” Then he ran off to the kitchen. For his favorite cranberry juice, I guess.
Mom started telling Grandma about David’s pretend sacraments. Obviously, we were through talking about my real First Communion. Nobody noticed when I went to my room.
I was so mad that I paced in circles. I took my First Communion very seriously. Shouldn’t David treat the Eucharist the same way?
Later he burst into my room, waving a box of tostada shells. “Guess what I’m doing with these?”
“What’s the problem?”asked Grandma, from my doorway.
I felt embarrassed to be shouting even though I was right. Before I could explain, David ran out in tears.
“Let's talk,” said Grandma.
We sat on the bed, and I explained about David’s inappropriate attitude. “He shouldn't be playing around like that,” I said.
“Little children pretend a lot," said Grandma. "It’s how they learn.”
“But he’s making my important day into a big game. And it’s all about him!”
Grandma hugged me. “David’s been getting a lot of attention, hasn’t he?”
To my surprise, tears came to my eyes. “It’s supposed to be my special time.”
“Your First Communion is the start of a closer relationship with Jesus,” said Grandma. “What could be more special than that?”
“Well....” The truth hit me then. Nothing David did could change what was happening between me and God. “Nothing!” I answered Grandma.
“Right,” she said, and gave me another hug. Then she picked up the tostada box and left.
I sat and thought. It was time for me to get real. I didn't like David "stealing" my attention, so I came down too hard on him. That wasn’t nice!
I felt even worse about my behavior when I found David and Grandma in the kitchen, spreading refried beans on the tostadas. David must have been trying to tell me about that when he came to my room. I had shouted at him for nothing!
It was hard to apologize, but David made things easier. “That’s okay,” he said. “Do you want to sprinkle on the cheese?”
By First Communion day, David was into pretending to be a race car driver. It was embarrassing how he kept moving his hands like he was holding a steering wheel, but I didn’t let it get to me. I was into something special...something holy...something really real!