An Open Letter to My Children


My dear children,

Last Sunday at Mass I couldn’t help but notice that a certain son of mine was wearing mismatched socks over his dirty ankles. And that a tiny tumbleweed was stuck to the side of a certain daughter’s head. The socks thing didn’t surprise me too much, but the tumbleweed was a real distraction, since we do live in the Northeast, after all. Discreet examination during the homily revealed the “tumbleweed” to be a tangle the size of a ping-pong ball. I was not amused.

I think it’s time I give you a few reminders regarding proper dress and grooming for Mass. Here they are, for your cheerful and conscientious use:

Hair – Must be clean and combed. Boys, gelling your hair is okay, as long as you don’t spike it so that you look like a group of sea anemones. Girls, matching barrettes or hairbands are always a nice touch. A neat ponytail is fine, but it may not be used to disguise tangles. Or the botched color job that your girlfriend did at last night’s sleepover, and about which your mother will speak to you after Mass, young lady.

Shirts/blouses – Modest necklines, girls! If you have to pin and tuck your scapular in half a dozen different places to keep it in place, you’d better change your blouse. Boys, the rules of modesty apply to you, too. Note to all: No t-shirts advertising bands, cigars, or pop culture icons. Oh, and one more thing, boys: Remember to follow the “button rule” to determine whether a shirt can be worn for church. If the shirt has at least one button – say, a Henley style – it’s acceptable Mass wear. Extra-special note to Leo: By “button,” we mean the round thing that fits into a buttonhole. We do not mean the kind of button with a pin on the back, which says something like “I am a punk rocker and I fight for justice.”

Footwear – Girls, if the feet of your white tights have gotten discolored, be sure to wear them dirty side down. Boys, if your feet have gotten discolored, wash them. With soap. Preserve their cleanliness by wearing socks with your Sunday shoes. Shoes that light up, fasten with Velcro, or have little skulls on them do not qualify as Sunday shoes. Note to all: No barefoot sandals . Piggy toes before the altar are a fail.

Jewelry – Girls, jewelry is never out of place, as long as you keep it simple and wear it only in the customary places. Boys, I like your beach jewelry with the cords and coconut beads, but it isn’t appropriate for Mass. Even though some of the apostles were fishermen. Note to all: Remember a few months ago, when Gerard, in an effort to spruce himself up for Jesus, put on several dozen silly bands before leaving for Sunday Mass? He thought that they made him look “even more dapper.” Because he is pure of heart and only seven years old, Gerard can do this. You cannot do this. Bright silicone wristbands –especially ones telling the world that you’re a musician, a proud American, a vampire girl, or someone’s BFF – may not be worn to church.

With all my love,

Copyright 2011 Celeste Behe


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1 Comment

  1. This is hilarious and yet, oh so true! I would ad that when it is 20 degrees outside, “Yes, you must wear a coat and I prefer that it not be your little brother’s that you had to dig out of the bottom of the toy box.”

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