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It's Fat Tuesday! Are you (and your family) giving something up for Lent?

Sugar_cookies I suddenly realized yesterday that Wednesday -- that's tomorrow!! -- is the beginning of Lent. I'm an Episcopalian by marriage, and my favorite part of the faith that's different from my Baptist roots is Lent. The concept of sacrificing something in concert with millions of others is a ritual that feels right in my bones.

Since I've recently joined the 'eat local' movement, I've been eliminating processed, industrial foods from my family's diet. One exception (of several) I've made up until now has been sugar -- though I've sworn off packaged cookies and candies and the like, I've been buying pound after pound of organic sugar and baking it into all kinds of high-glycemic goodies. I think that I'm giving up sugar (but not honey, as it's local and thoroughly part of nature) for Lent.

The problem with me giving up sugar is that, as chief baker for a houseful I've dragged along on mission: eat local, I'm forcing the rest of my family to give it up, too. Forced religion or good mojo? I can't decide. Are you giving up anything for Lent? Is your family, too, an unwilling participant in your sacrifice?

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Mila's Godparents - or as Mila calls them, her Fairy Godparents - were in town this weekend. And Lent became a subject of spirited conversation on Sunday morning.

Once Mila understood what Lent was and the role of "offering a sacrifice", she decided that Mama needed to give up chocolate and wheat.

Mila's Fairy Godfather and I negotiated it down to wheat only since giving up chocolate during the season of Valentine's Day and Jen's birthday seemed like too much to "sacrifice"...

BUT once Jen learned of this decision made for her without her input...well...that's when the spirited conversation began...

I don't remember all the details but somewhere along the way the question of what is PAPA going to give up invariably came up.

So, it has been agreed that I will give up being grumpy for forty days....

Even when it's raining? yes...even when George Bush does something that pisses me off? yes...even when I am driving? yes.

Needless to say I have been extra grumpy the past couple of days in preparation for my grumpy fast.

I strongly advise you to stay on my GOOD side until Wednesday.

When I was in college I always gave up desserts for Lent--a not-insignificant sacrifice because I have a serious sweet tooth and the dining hall had desserts out for every lunch and dinner. But it was also easy because it was just about me. I've always hesitated to do that now that I'm married and have kids because it would impact everyone else, too. It's not that it would hurt them to give up desserts for awhile, but I'm not sure my resolve would survive the whining and complaints (from kids, not husband). So I've tried other resolutions. But sometimes I forget to come up with one at all.

What I liked most about giving up desserts in college was that it was a twice-daily reminder of the liturgical season, and it was a sacrifice that felt positive (because desserts aren't exactly healthy anyway). Giving up chard or yogurt just wouldn't have the same feel! I would love to come up with something similar now, but I already don't drink caffeine and I don't drink alcohol. I already eat vegetarian all summer long when my sister and her family live with us (they're vegetarian). Maybe give up chocolate? Maybe give up snacking between meals? Maybe give up some me-time to focus more on my kids?

Guess I better make up my mind pronto.

I was surprised when Philly came home today and said that, today at school, they talked about giving stuff up for Lent. She also had a Mardi Gras mask and ate King cake. She said she'd give up "dilly-dallying" for Lent. Thank goodness. 40 days of no dilly-dallying? We just may be on-time to school for once.

As for me, I don't give up anything during the Lent season (bad Catholic me). My husband does, usually. We are a meat-eating family and give up meat on Fridays. My girls suggested that their daddy give up coffee and he balked. "That's too hard."

Congrats on giving up grumpy, Tony. We'll come see you during the lenten season.

My husband and I were both baptized Catholic. I come from a much more Catholic family than he does. We talked about this tonight and for the first time in our lives we are going to recognize Lent. We have decided to give up alcohol. He has a beer almost every night and I have a glass of wine or a beer. Sometimes it turns into two glasses. The stress of having a spirited 5 yr old and a copycat 3 yr old, I guess. But we will do this.....even though our anniversary is Saturday night. Maybe it will make a difference in how we feel about the next day.

A friend of my has a different practice for lent. Instead of 'giving up' a bad habit we are 'adding in' a good habit. So instead of focusing on the negative in our lives, we are focusing on the positive things and increasing them. So this year, I am adding some time for prayer and reading scripture at the end of the day right before I go to bed. I find my mind filled with thoughts of the Divine before I drift off to sleep! Much better than obsessing about not having chocolate!

And how did you know I was just sitting here obsessing about not having chocolate?

You're absolutely right that adding a good habit can be more meaningful. The problem is that I'm not as good at following through on those additions. One year I gave up complaining about being tired (my son was NOT a good sleeper at that age) and that was a good, meaningful sacrifice without trying to remember to add something every day. So this year I'll give up chocolate, and my husband is giving up all treats at the office. Maybe next year we'll be ready to do something more spiritual.

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