I was never a girly girl. I grew up surrounded by boys, He-Man, G.I. Joes, Transformers, and video games. Of course I had a short stint with Barbies and pink things, but it didn’t last long. Even they went on adventures and faced danger of (5-yr-old) epic proportions. I loved superheroes and I didn’t gravitate to the girls; I gravitated to whoever had the craziest backstory or the coolest powers. (Although, Captain Marvel and Phoenix qualify for both.) That said, the following shouldn’t have surprised my mother.
One day, our parents presented my brother and me with new crucifixes for our bedrooms. He got a tan ceramic crucifix while I got a white one with gold lining. His room was blue with brown wood trim, so it made sense. Mine was pink and lacy and white. I may have grimaced when she showed me mine. The detail was clearer in my brother’s. I could see definition between Jesus’s body and the cross, even in His facial features. The white one was softer, less defined, and I couldn’t see His face as well. Also, I thought the tan crucifix looked like sand while the white looked like melted marshmallow. Silly, I know, but I admitted that I liked my brother’s better.
My mother was surprised but my brother admitted he didn’t care. To him, it was just a cross. So, we switched. Maybe my mother was more okay with this when my face beamed upon receiving the ‘sandy’ crucifix. I may have even jumped for joy a bit. I was only about seven or eight. It mattered to me, possibly more than it mattered to my mother who picked them out. It wasn’t just a cross, even just a crucifix to me. It was Jesus in my room and I wanted to see Him, not melted marshmallow. For some reason, the sandy textured look to this cross also captivated me.
When I had my own children, we started a tradition of letting them pick out their own crucifix around their First Communion. My oldest picked a wooden crucifix with compartments holding pieces of the Holy Land. My second picked something similar, though much smaller and with loads of detail around it. His has the Stations of the Cross going around the cross. This personalization for them will, I hope, bring more meaning to their crucifixes. They hang over their beds and each of them has mentioned how important they feel they are. My youngest has a couple years to go but I mean to offer the same to him.
Ultimately, while my mother knew the importance of having a crucifix to bless a child’s room, it was picked with a bit of decorum in mind. I don’t doubt her intentions as she’s a faithful woman, but I learned something in this. While a child needs guidance and teaching for sure in order to learn the faith (Proverbs 22:6), bringing that child deeper into the faith means involving him or her in the lessons or (in this case) the choosing of a crucifix. Salvation is for everyone and we must each personally choose to follow Christ. The more personal we make it from the start, the better.