For me, celebrating my fifteenth birthday was a beautiful experience right from the time we began planning for it. Every weekend, we could get together at my house and rehearse a dance routine and just have fun with my friends. I remember going with them to try on dresses. That was really fun.
My mom took charge in explaining the true meaning of this 15th birthday celebration in our culture — its religious meaning, which represents entering a new stage in my life and the commitment to God and the community. We would discuss being virtuous and the importance of following, listening to and living the example of the Virgin Mary. The symbolism of every part of the Mass as well, such as the tiara that represents entering triumphantly into the kingdom of God.
After several months of preparation, the big day arrived and I was very excited. Upon entering the church and finding myself surrounded my family and friends and Father Jim (Schwartz) and Father Bob (Kreckel) I was overwhelmed with emotion. Everyone stood to look at me as the opening procession began. My sister, Stephanie, and her college friends were in the first pew. My godmother, Marcela, my little cousin, Sofi, everyone here came together to celebrate this very special occasion. My dad looked so proudly at me. My emotions were amplified when my family accompanied me as I carried a bouquet of White roses to place under the statue of the Virgin Mary. My mom whispered in my ear to offer all my actions to God and to ask Mary to guide me in everything I do.
After the Mass, we celebrated in a beautifully decorated ballroom with my family, friends – the food, the music, everything made this day feel so special. I loved celebrating my fifteenth birthday. I will remember it for the rest of my life.
By Natalie Hoppe