I admit it, I’m a “Fallen Catholic.” At least, that’s what a lot of people might call me. Though I was raised in the church and attended Catholic school, as an adult I chose to walk away. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one for me. Though there are many things about my Catholic experience for which I am truly thankful, my husband and I have been fortunate to find another church where we feel our family belongs. Nowadays I consider myself a “Cultural Catholic” insofar as there are some traditions I still enjoy celebrating.
One of my favorite Catholic practices is giving something up for Lent. Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday (approximately 40 days) meant to represent the time that Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days, resisting the Devil’s temptation. Catholics often commemorate this time by “giving up” a luxury or habit for the duration of Lent. Sometimes one might give up a favorite food (like cheese) or a favorite, indulgent practice such as shopping online. Some people take advantage of Lent as an opportunity to re-ignite those New Year’s resolutions by committing to exercise daily or give up smoking for 40 days.
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I always liked “giving things up for Lent” as a kid. It made me feel empowered to be able to renounce something I really liked for a while, or even for good. One year I gave up Saturday morning television. I was absolutely glued to the TV that first Saturday after Easter! Another year I committed to something even bigger. I used to be a nail biter, and was very embarrassed by my mangled manicure. So I made up my mind that, come Easter, I would never bite my nails again. It wasn’t easy. I had to quit one nail at a time, every four days. I felt so relieved to be rid of that bad habit at the end of those 40 days and I never took it up again.
BUT, WHAT TO GIVE UP?
So I still give things up for Lent. I don’t make my kids do it, but I do share what I’m doing with them. Two years ago I gave up sweets. That was a toughie because sugar is an ingredient in so many things, so I had to be really strict about what fell under the category of “sweets.” My daughter (who was 7 at the time) thought it was cool that I would “just choose” to give up something she couldn’t imagine living without. So the following year, when I gave up chocolate for Lent, she decided to try getting her school outfits ready the night before for 40 days. Not only did she take pride in her accomplishment (that she’s kept up ever since) but it was a great opportunity for me to practice one of my favorite childhood traditions with her.
This year I had kind of a hard time making up my mind what to give up for Lent. I don’t smoke, rarely drink and have been “eating clean” for some time. I’ve developed a pretty steady exercise routine and my husband and I have been getting our home organized. What to do next? I started thinking about the people I love most, my husband and kids. Is there anything I do in my day to day life that I know drives them crazy? That’s when it hit me. I don’t spend a ton of time in front of the TV, but the stuff I watch makes my husband and daughter roll their eyes so much I’m pretty sure their faces are going to freeze like that someday. I didn’t want to give up TV altogether, but I decided I could do without the worst offender for 40 days. That’s right, I’m talking to you, Real Housewives. My husband and daughter HATE to find me with my Housewives. OC, DC, Atlanta…we’ll just have to catch up after Easter. But Beverly Hills? Ouch. I think I’ll miss you most of all, RHOBH. I’m just dying to find out how that whole Brandi vs. Adrienne firestorm shakes out! Does anybody know what happened? Tell me! No…I’ll wait.