A Cousin’s First Communion

I am not a religious person. I was raised in the Catholic education system from preschool-high school, but my mother is a heathen (her words) and my dad vacillates between being a believer and being an individual who wants to believe but hates going to church. It was an odd upbringing. We don’t talk about it much. I still don’t actually know what my dad’s real thoughts on religion are. hm. more on that later, I guess.

But anyway, back on track (sorry for the stream of consciousness… I’m having an epic battle with writer’s block as I’m doing this) ok NOW back on track:

I was invited to go to my cousin’s daughter’s first communion. One of the however-many sacraments the Catholic church demands you complete, and also the first one you enter into knowingly.

My family, along with not being religious, is also not very close. I haven’t seen my cousin in a long time and his daughters in an even longer time. I’m trying to do more to get more involved with my family now that I’m old enough that I’ve more or less stopped actively trying to runaway from and rebel against them, which is why I’m willingly going to get up at 8am, put on a fancy dress, painful shoes and go spend an entire day celebrating a ceremony I don’t believe in. I’m praying the church part isn’t too long.

The main thing I’m struggling with, is what to get this adorable little girl as a gift. Again the family is not that close, so I’m only guessing that she’s around 7. I have no contact numbers for my cousin or his wife so I’m flying blind on both gifts and wardrobe (pretty faux pas as they’re a large Italian-Canadian family.)

What do you get a little girl in the age of technology that isn’t extravagantly expensive, isn’t going to offend any religious family members, isn’t *too* young but also not going to go over her head? Also, I’m not comfortable buying her religious trinkets because it just feels wrong to me. It’s enough that I’m going to sit in a building surrounded by people around whom I will need to censor myself in a way that I haven’t in a loooooong time.

After racking my brain for almost a week now, I think I have it. My first thought was books. They got me through a lot of difficult times growing up, and I know this little girl is quiet and shy and I want to give her something that will make her feel empowered and adventurous. Books were also my go-to gift for my little brother during his formative years. But this is 2016. What children’s book is not only not a total joke in the face of literature, but also accessible enough that a kid raised on iPads would find interesting?

I think I might have figured it out. A diary.

On a day that marks her beginning down a path of ideology that she can’t possibly understand, I want to give her the gift of introspection. I want her to have a place for her thoughts and feelings to be heard, even when the loud voices of the grownups around her and that of her boisterous younger sister, might make her feel alone. And I want that place to be private. I want her to have one part of her life that is not available to the Cloud. Of course, these are speculations on my part from my limited interactions with her. I can only hope that the gift is used and that it is the right choice. And I also hope that my participation will lead to further contact with a family I’m currently rediscovering.

Maybe I should just go to Toys ‘R’ Us instead…

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