A cartoon before first communion: Susan Kandel’s best photograph

A cartoon before first communion: Susan Kandel’s best photographApril 8, 2021

‘Left to her own devices, she’d be in a T-shirt and out in the dirt. But she’s been told to be good, stand still and not mess up her dress’

This photo was easy because this is my niece, who’s getting ready for her first communion. Her normal state was to be very active, never stationary for more than a minute. Left to her own devices, she’d be wearing a T-shirt and probably out there in the dirt. What I see in this picture is that she’s been told to be good, stand still and not mess up her dress.

It was 1987 and the family lived in Stoughton, Massachusetts. It’s a blue-collar area, not particularly fancy. There were always kids playing outside, which you didn’t see so much in more prosperous neighbourhoods. There was a lot of excitement. First communion is a very big deal. The rationale is that the girls are becoming brides of Christ, so their outfits are like a wedding dress, and the boys wear white suits, white shirts, white ties. They’re seven years old, considered old enough to have a notion of sin. My niece must have just turned 40 now.

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