According to Wikipedia, Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday (did not know that. I thought it was the celebration like a week leading up to Fat Tuesday. Anyways, thank you Wiki). Fat Tuesday is the one last ditch effort to partake in the rich and fattening foods or any other gluttonous behaviors before the Lenten season. While I do practice Lent, I don’t bust out my beads for party revelers nor go to Mass on Ash Wednesday. or even follow the no-meat on Friday thing. I’m also not Catholic, who are traditionally the ones who observe Lent. I'm just a regular Methodist who goes to church on the high holy days. You know Easter and Christmas.
So why do I follow Lent you might wonder. Well, I just do. It was something my mom got my sister, Norma Rae, and me to do when we were younger. It was just something that stuck. I make sure that what I give up has some meaning or weight behind it. I don’t want to say, “Oh I’m giving up escargot for Lent” because since I’ve never had escargot, it’s not that big of a deal to do it. So I always try (or at least try) to give things up that will make an impact on my life to remind me why I do it. Oh and the why is a whole lot more Jesus-y then you would imagine coming from me. And since I believe that religion is a very private matter, a matter between you and your God, I’m not going to bore you with the deets here. Just know that in the words of Bryan Adams, I do it for you (Jesus).
In years past I’ve given up the luxuries of life like soda and chocolate. Chocolate is a big one for me because I love me some chocolate. So one year (many moons ago) I decided that I would give up smoking. (yes I was a smoker and I enjoyed the hell out of it.) I wanted to give it up to prove to people (Juanito) and myself that I could give it up if I wanted to. But I enjoyed the act of smoking, the social aspect of smoking and even, at times, the smell of smoking. I had no intentions of giving it up. It was just something that I would do. You know, for Lent. I am surprised by how easy it was. Perhaps it was the fact that I didn’t put the “FOREVER” part of no smoking. It was just 40 days. (Speaking of, have you seen that movie? 40 Days with the squinty-eyed guy from Pearl Harbor, Josh something or another who gives up sex for Lent. It was on Comedy Central the other weekend. So pointlessly entertaining. My favorite kinda Sunday afternoon movie!)
Anyways….The Fat Tuesday before that particular Lent I smoke almost an entire pack the evening before. Talk about gluttony. It was heavenly. Come Easter I was reluctant to buy a pack of cigarettes again because I had put all this effort into not smoking. What if I pick it up and its harder to put down again? So I didn’t. I loved smelling other people’s smoke. It was fantastic to sit next to smokers and breathe that second-hand. A few months later we went to a Dave concert where I was bound and determined to smoke. I bought a pack and when Dave took the stage, I busted out a cigarette and lit it. Schmacey watched my face contort into a mix of pleasure and holy-God-what-is-going-on and my eyes watering. She asked if it was good, everything I thought it was be. I choked through a cough and said it was good. But really my throat closed up on me and the pleasure was completely gone. It was no longer enjoyable. Jesus took away my fun. Ruiner!
So needless to say that was the Lent I stopped smoking. Regardless of how many times I’ve tried to smoke again, it never works. My body won’t let me. The last time, a year ago, I took a drag and thought my lungs were going to exploded and take me along with it. While I hacked and hacked and hacked like a first time smoker, I envisioned bits of my lungs all over the Sand Bar. I miss smoking dearly and will crawl into your lap if you are smoking just to enjoy the second-hand. Be warned.
There was another year I gave up ice cream. While pregnant I developed a pretty intense need for ice cream, like every night. It lasted for the first year of The Boy’s life. So for that Lent I decided to give up ice cream. I’ve done sweets like candy and chocolate and soda in the past. This should be easy breezy right? No. It wasn’t. It was very, very, very hard. When thoughts of scheming to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food in my car where no one would see would enter my head I would remind myself that I quit smoking for Lent. I gave up an addictive drug without a problem in the world. For the LOVE OF GOD you can make it through ice cream! And I did.
So this year, I’m giving up a couple of things and taking on a challenge. First I’m giving up ice cream again. Prepare yourself for Code Red alerts and possible weeping. Along with that I am also giving up soda. I haven’t really been drinking too much soda for the past month so I don’t see this being as difficult as it has been in the past. I have been guzzling it this weekend in preparation for Lent. I will also be making a special trip to Cold Stone tonight for the “Gotta Have It” size of everything they can mash into that bowl with cake batter ice cream.
The challenge I’m taking on is the 40 Gallon challenge. I am trying to drink a gallon of water everyday for the next 40 days. I have a ginormous jug with the ounces marked off. I must drink at least 4 of those a day to achieve it. I foresee a lot of bathroom breaks in my future.How about you? Do you Lent?