Growing Up Catholic, With Trolls

When I was a little girl, I planned to grow up to become a nun.

I’ll wait. Let me know when the laughing stops.

Nun With Book Sister Babe-adette

Sister Babe-adette

I was in love with God, and loved going to church. For a while, I even voluntarily attended an extra mass on Sundays: a six o’clock service, in addition to the regular nine o’clock family service.

I loved the music, I loved taking Communion, and I really loved saying my rosary. There was such a feeling of peace with each repeated prayer. I still feel this way when I say the Our Father.

Even when I was home, I sometimes thought about church. I made my own little church out of a corrugated cardboard box. It had no top, so that you could see inside. I made little cardboard pews and a cardboard altar. I remember that the altar cloth was just a carefully-draped white Kleenex.

By Mk2010 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

No Disrespect Intended–After All, Kleenex Does Help Us Celebrate The Birth of Jesus With Its Festive Christmas Box!

Graceful Pews I Saw in My Mind...

...Worn, Plain Pews Closer to My Cardboard Model

I even made vestments for my one boy troll doll (don’t ask me how I knew it was a boy—troll dolls are rather featureless down there). I’d play church with him and my girl trolls.

Christmas Trolls from

Couldn't Find Any Priest or Nun Trolls, But These Trolls Are Nice and Christmasy!

After some thought, I’d figured out how to make troll-sized communion wafers by squishing flat a piece of Wonder Bread and cutting tiny circles out of it with cuticle scissors (the hole punch hadn’t worked out). I bet the Wonder Bread people never imagined their wonderful bread could be used for troll communion wafers!

Wonder Bread, the Bread of Miracles

Another great thing about growing up Catholic was that all of our rosaries and holy statues glowed in the dark. How cool is that? Whenever I felt the need of a little lift, I’d withdraw into the closet, stick a towel under the door crack, and sit surrounded by my ghostly glowing treasures. The Jewish kids may have had their eight days of gifts, but we Catholics had our glowing saints and crosses. It all evened out.

Spooky and Yet Comforting, Because You Knew It Was a GOOD Power

One of the really special things about Christmas back then was going to see the outdoor Nativity displays. Often, they were very solemn and beautiful. All of the Catholic families had small tabletop nativities at home, too. Back then, Jesus wasn’t stuck to the manger. He wouldn’t even be in the manger. It was empty. Every day, we children would take a short little piece of straw—the kind like hay, not the kind you drink with—say a prayer for someone, and put the straw into the empty manger. After 24 days of doing this, the manger would be nice and soft with straw, and full of prayers, ready for the baby Jesus.

A Vatican Nativity on Christmas Eve With a Fully Straw-Filled Empty Manger All Ready for Jesus

Christmas morning, when you woke up, you first looked to find Jesus in the manger, and you felt really happy he was there. Then, you’d go to your stockings! We were allowed to pour out our stockings before our parents woke up. We weren’t allowed to open any gifts until after we waited for the sun to finish rising, and then we could pester our parents until we got them to rise, too.

The gift part was pretty much the same as now. And we’d whine about stopping to go to church. But afterward, we felt really happy to be there to celebrate that special, very holy day.


Still all ready for Him.

Leave a comment


  1. Loving your humour in the posts I’ve read so far. And all from a comment you made elsewhere. Have to tag along. I was going to be a nun too. But I got married and had seven kids instead. Sublime to the ridiculous with me. Anne-Marie


    • Hi, Anne-Marie,

      I’ve rejoined the living, and am finally welcoming you aboard, and so glad to have you along for the bumpy, oft-interrupted ride!–But a mom of seven is used to unsmooth sailing…

      Thank you for the “loved” re: the posts’ humor! And Merry Christmas : )

      –O. Babe


  2. Had my own little altar in my room and played at saying mass with my gal pal when I was in grade school. Lit candles and did the whole incense thing. I had forgotten all about doing this until I clicked to your blog today. I really like it here… I have some reading to do! Hope you let people comment on three year old posts 🙂 I was going to be a nun too.. well I thought about it for oh, a couple of days. Don’t know why I even thought about being a nun, they were so mean to me.. ha! Mother Norberta.. she was a character.


    • Oh, my gosh! We should put out an ad and form a club:

      “Seeking Former (Ex-) Ex-Communicants: GIRLS Who Dared To Ex-ecute the Holy Sacrament Of Mass (and Lived to Tell the Tale!)

      How had we known that lightning would not strike us for failing to have the Church-approved type of naughty-bits? Ha ha ha!!

      Poor Norberta–she likely had little choice but to be mean: What must have happened in her young girlhood to make her choose “Norberta” (!) for her nun-name?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • dying laughing! The stories I could tell you of 12 years of suffering through Catholic school… look!… I still make sure I give Catholic a capital “C”. Mother Norberta did not have one kind fiber in her being. She was also ancient with ZERO sense of humor. We called the nuns zeros/zeroes.


  3. I did not read “Madeline” but I will now I think!


  4. My wife actually was a nun, but her idealism had been shattered years before she married me and had her idealism further shattered (just kidding – we’ve been happily married for over 40 years, and unhappily married for a total of maybe 40 minutes). Make that 40 seconds – I don’t want to get into trouble. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Does she have a blog, so I can rat you out?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It wouldn’t do you any good. I’d point out that you admit telling naughty lies – but just to be on the safe side, I’m sorry, but I cannot divulge that information for reasons of security (mine).

        Liked by 1 person

    • THIS is the post you should read. (Guess I’m still stuck on that horn topic, busy tooting mine.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Read it. Like it. Commented on it. As for tooting your horn, I thought Donald Trump had the market cornered. Maybe if you promise to vote for him, he won’t mind.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Such an obvious pun, and surely one which has been made more than once, but I don’t recall seeing it: Trump trumpeting. He’s been a bit more muted of late, thank goodness.



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