This year, I am following tradition and for Lent am giving up, well, absolutely nothing. But in honor of all of you who are more self-sacrificing people than I am, I am running a column I wrote a few year ago about what others give up for Lent. Enjoy!
Recently, a strange occurrence took place in our home. I cooked a meal on a Friday night. The last time this happened was approximately, well, never, but my husband and I had just returned from a two-week trip the night before and my kids wanted a “real dinner.”
My daughter blessed our chicken dinner, but added this before the amen: “even though we aren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.”
Two thoughts occurred to me: One, I hadn’t even realized it was Lent and two, my daughter had not said a word earlier in the day when she asked me what we were having for dinner, waiting until the meal was safely on the table.
We’d been in the remote areas of Hawaii—away from TV and newspapers and the concepts of self-denial and sacrifice had pretty much been erased from our vocabulary. I’d be hard pressed to make a case that turning down a third piece of banana bread or another round of umbrella-festooned tropical drinks constituted any kind of sacrifice.
Of course I had prayed during the trip, especially as our helicopter went zooming over the huge cliffs of Kauai then soaring past the majestic Napoli Coast. These were in addition to the usual don’t-let-a-smelly/loud/obnoxious-person-sit-next-to-me-on-the-airplane prayer.
Then I wondered what other folks were sacrificing for Lent. My brother-in-law Jack gave up desserts. Oh, he didn’t give up sweets. He just eats them between meals or for breakfast because then it isn’t dessert.
Loralynne gives up sweets and Cokes, so she refers to Lent as her God-Driven Diet, with a guaranteed weight loss of a couple of pounds once a year.
Susan gave up candy, but it may not result in any weight loss. One night she ate half a box of Raisin Bran, because it’s sugar coated.
Lindsey gave up chocolate. But she didn’t give up chocolate liqueurs and is pleasantly passing the weeks of Lent by drinking chocolate martinis.
Although she is single and 28, Lyndsay gave up “booze and boys,” which she regretted the next day. “This year, in a quest to truly have 40 days of self-denial and reflection, I decided to forgo my social life and watch, slowly, as my chances of finding Mr. Right plummet to zero,” she said.
She was managing okay, with a momentary setback when she found out that this year Lent is 46 days. Then her father called. “He asked if I was ‘still on Lent.’ After assuring him that I was, he dropped this beauty, ‘Lyndz, your biological clock is ticking at quite a rate, and you just can’t afford to lose 40 days of dating to Lent.’”
Jennifer gave up chocolate also and found that Starbursts, peanut butter and shortbread are totally unacceptable substitutes. After looking up the technical definition of chocolate—a combination of cocoa bean, butter fat and vanilla—she was able to add such things as chocolate milk powder back into her diet.
Elizabeth gave up chocolate, so can only stare wistfully at the huge heart-shaped box of chocolates her boyfriend sent her for Valentine’s Day, a large portion of which I imagine will be snarfed down by dawn on Easter morning,
Other folks take a more creative approach to the concept of sacrifice.
When she was in college, Kim gave up riding elevators, even though her dorm was on the seventh floor. Maire, who lives in New York, gave up riding escalators. “It may sound pretty funny, but when you live in New York, escalators are a large part of your existence, especially if you get off of the 7 train at Grand Central.”
If you’re making sacrifices for Lent, good luck to you. I suppose this year I’m more like the Irishman in this joke.
An Irishman walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and drinks all three. The bartender said, “You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if ya just bought one at a time lad.”
The Irishman replies, “Well, ya see, I have two brothers. One is in America, the other in Australia, and I’m here in Dublin. When we all left home, we promised each other that we’d drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I drink one for each o’ me brothers and one for me self.”
The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. One day, he comes in and orders two pints. All the other regulars fall silent. When he goes for the second round, the bartender says, “I don’t want to intrude on yar grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on yar great loss.” The Irishman looks confused for a moment and then laughs.
“Oh, no. Everyone’s fine, me brothers are fine, ” he explains, “It’s just that I gave up drinking for Lent, but my brothers didn’t.”