So, it’s that time of year again- when Cathiolics and masochists alike make the solemn vow to give up one of life’s
few little pleasures for 40 days and 40 nights.
Me? I think I’ll give up raw vegan pizza this year.
What?? too easy?
Well I guess I’m at a loss, then. I considered giving up wine for a hot minute… buut then I remembered I hate reality too much for that. So then I thought maybe I’d give up eating cereal.. only, two problems:
- I might starve to death; and
- I already ate it this morning- and last time I checked, we catholics aren’t big on the whole “forgiveness” thing.
I guess I’ll figure something out. In the meantime- I’ve been spending my morning reminiscing about lenten seasons past……
Growing up Catholic, lent was a pretty big deal… and although I can look back fondly on it now, it wasn’t always what you would call a “pleasant” experience at the time.
Sure- things started out great with Shrove Tuesday and all (Pancakes for dinner? Yes please!), but after that, it sort of went downhill from there. First, there was Ash Wednesday to contend with.
Every year, my mom would pick my brothers and I up from school at lunch time and cart us to the noon-hour mass at our church, where we’d begrudgingly wait in line for the priest to apply ashes in the shape of a cross on our foreheads.
Since washing it off was a crime punishable by death (or so we thought), we were forced to return to school afterwards, still sporting the ashes emblazoned on our foreheads like the Scarlet Letter. The worst part was that it never actually looked like a cross, either. I’m not sure if it was sheer laziness, exhaustion, or the sausage-like fingers our priest was unfortunately born with, but it always ended up looking more like a nondescript blob than anything. No matter how hard you tried not to, you’d always touch it, too- and end up with ashes smudged all over your hands and face, like a schmuck.
I remember once examining my ashes in the bathroom mirror at school, thinking they bore an uncanny resemblance to Slimer from Ghostbusters:
One year in high school, desperate to get out of this socially-destructive practice, I discovered on the internet that Ash Wednesday wasn’t actually a “Holy Day of Obligation” . Convinced this was my ticket to freedom, I approached my mother with this new information. Unfortunately, I underestimated both her intellect, and religious zealousness (and the fact that catholics don’t have quite the penchant for semantics that I do). So off to church I went.
After Ash Wednesday came the whole choosing what to “give up” part. My mom always had final say on this one. I remember on a few occasions, thinking I could pull a fast one on her by trying to give up things I didn’t even like, and constructing what I considered to be foolproof arguments: “You know what mom? This year, I think I’m gonna give up carrots. I mean- I know my eyesight will suffer for it…. but what is that to the pain Jesus felt while dying on the cross for our sins ??”
Once again she was too clever for me though- and instead would usually force us to give up all treats of any kind.
Now when you’re a mildly overweight/highly overindulged 8-year-old, this is basically your own personal version of hell. No twinkes? No doritos? No peanut-butter stuffed Chips Ahoy Sandwiches?? But what will I eat for my after-school snack????
Luckily for me, my family subscribed to the lax doctrine held by some Catholics that you get a temporary reprieve from your Lenten promises on Sundays.
Every Sunday after Church, my mom or dad would take us to the store and let us pick out “a few” treats to be enjoyed that day. Now- the definition of “a few” varied wildly depending on if it were Mom or Dad at the helm of this expedition. If Mom was herding us- we’re talking 1-2 treats each, MAX. Dad on the other hand, usually became distracted by the Sunday paper, and paid no attention to what we piled onto the counter, simply handing over cash at the end of the transaction.
These were the days we lived for. We’d go home, pour our loot out all over the basement floor, and proceed to engage in a 12-hour sugar bender. I specifically remember one Sunday, watching The Wizard of Oz on VHS, and being so hopped up on sugar that I spun around the room screaming “A TWISTA!!!!!! A TWISTA!!!!” for a good half an hour, before having to run to the bathroom and throw up.
Somehow, despite public embarrassment, binge eating, and sugar deprivation, we always made it through, though… and for our efforts, were rewarded each Easter Sunday with a basket of God’s greatest gift to the universe: CHOCOLATE. And sidewalk chalk. Can’t forget about the sidewalk chalk.
Question of the Day: What are YOU giving up for lent?
P.S. a HUGE thank you to everyone who read, liked and commented on my post “The Vegetarian’s Dilemma” which was Freshly Pressed yesterday- I’m doing my best to respond and pay visits to all of you! Special thanks goes out to all of my new followers- I hope you know what you’ve signed yourselves up for! muhahaha ;) xo, Breezyk