Spring means deluded parents and spray-tanned Holy Communion girls

Conservative estimates suggest many families shell out at least €1,000 for the day

Yep, it’s First Holy Communion season again and the country is awash in parasols and frilly white ankle-socks. Photograph: iStock

Yep, it’s First Holy Communion season again and the country is awash in parasols and frilly white ankle-socks. Photograph: iStock

 

Spring has sprung, eh? I’m dancing around my small backyard, garlanded in lupins, watching the thistle finches and golden linnets fly back and forth to their treetop nests of moss and feather.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Actually, I’m abandoning the laptop and lashing out to the yard to catch a few rays whenever the sun comes out, only to wake up 10 minutes later, dribbling and disorientated, having dreamt I was a toasted sandwich.

I did really see two goldfinches dart around the garden the other day, but I suspect they only visited for my less-than-neighbourly dandelion seeds. I’m a lousy gardener and generally look the other way when I’m tiptoeing through the weeds on the way from the street to my front door, especially at this time of year when the dandelions light up my borders like halogen lights.

So I was genuinely happy to read that those bright yellow proliferators are an essential source of food for insects and bees who haven’t eaten since last summer and are desperately in need of nourishment.

For bumblebees, who spend winter living in a hole in the ground, your dandelions are a lifesaver. (I only just learned that bees hibernate in the soil. I’ve spent the best part of six decades thinking they did something frothy in the frosty season, like go skiing in the Alps.) So I’m going to proudly leave my Taraxacum officinale alone – those weeds are breakfast!

Princess packages

The real sign of spring’s arrival in this country, however, is not the presence of flowering buds or darting swallows; it’s the proliferation of “princess packages” you see advertised in the windows of suburban beauty salons. Designed to entrap – sorry, did I just write entrap? I meant, of course, enchant – little-girl communicants (much as a handful of niger seeds might delight a charm of goldfinches), these prepubescent personal-grooming deals are abundant at this time of the year.

Besides the Bo-Peep satin frock there is of course the obligatory hotel lunch for the relatives

Yep, it’s First Holy Communion season again and the country is awash in parasols and frilly white ankle-socks. It’s the season when hardworking if somewhat delusional parents spend a lot of money having their eight-year-old daughters spray-tanned, pedicured and manicured, before dressing them up in mini bridal gowns, whacking a sparkling tiara on top of their costly “upstyles” and launching them on the catwalk. (Sorry, there I go again – I meant launching them up the aisle!)

Average spend

It’s difficult to estimate what an average family might spend on a Communion celebration. Besides the Bo-Peep satin frock, replete with bonnet, staff and a flock of wandering sheep, there is of course the obligatory hotel lunch for the relatives. Conservative estimates suggest many families shell out at least €1,000 for the day.

One thousand euro! Man, I can think of a lot of uses for a grand that wouldn’t involve sitting in a restaurant awash with fractious parents pushing breaded chicken around their plates, not to mention listening to high-decibel, hyper children, their sparkly swag bags bursting with sanctifying grace and other people’s cash, demanding chocolate ice-cream to smear all over their three-tiered gúnas.

Who am I to judge the actions of anxious parents who only want to make Ellie/Ali/Ava feel like a princess for a day?

I suspect the figure of €1,000 could be an underestimate. I read somewhere that it’s possible to rent a pink Playboy Hummer to transport your communicant to the church door. A Playboy Hummer (in case you happen to be a cloistered aesthete) is a variety of automobile, not an ornithological species.

Hand-me-down dress

Well, who am I to judge the actions of anxious parents who only want to make little Ellie/Ali/Ava feel like a princess for a day? (Although I have to say, given my extensive reading of gossip websites when I’m supposed to be working, many real-life celebrity/princess types seem to spend their days feeling bloated, insecure, scrutinised and not at all full of the joys of spring.)

Any parent will tell you how difficult it is to say no to a child who’s bawling her head off because, while you’re digging out the hand-me-down dress, little Ruby Ringlets next door is running around the playground telling everyone that she’s going to be wearing a vintage-inspired creation fashioned, as one advert promises, from “luxurious fabrics” which are “adorned with Swarovski crystals, pearls and diamanté that adds the perfect touch of shimmering, head-turning sparkle”. Seriously, I wish I was making this stuff up.

Right, I’m off to wallow in my weedy garden. I’ll take dandelions over diamanté every time.

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