We missed celebrating Mardi Gras last week. I was getting over a wicked case of food poisoning and not up to celebrating anything besides staying out of the bathroom.
You don’t hear of a lot of people commemorating Fat Tuesday around here, unlike when we lived along the Gulf Coast. Down there it’s a huge celebration with parades and parties.
But one of my favorite things about homeschooling is teaching cultural awareness through observing different traditions. My kids ask all year when it will be time to make Mardi Gras King Cake again. Baking it takes half a day, but it’s worth it. I use rich brioche dough filled with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, topped with vanilla glaze and the traditional green, purple and gold sugar sprinkles.
It’s a million times better than anything you can buy, so I think we’ll be having our Fat Tuesday a week late. Obviously, we aren’t giving up sugar for Lent. But I’m not sure what to sacrifice instead.
I never really heard of this Lenten season of penance when I was growing up, but I like that my kids are learning about it now. There is something powerful in observing a season of selflessness as we lead up to Easter. But the burning question is: what to give up?
I know someone who is denying herself junk food, sweets, meat, complaining, gossip and procrastinating. I wouldn’t say this to her, but it kind of makes me wonder what exactly she did all year that she now feels the need to atone for.
Perhaps she’s just more spiritually mature than I’ll ever think of being. I’d struggle to give up one of those things, much less all of them, for 40 whole days.
We should join her in giving up junk food and sweets. But then we couldn’t have our King Cake, or that amazing chocolate I bought half-price the day after Valentine’s. I know that giving up meat is a tradition during Lent, but I’m still lactating and need my protein.
Complaining and gossiping—what a happier world it would be if we all gave those up, even for just a day. A friend and I challenged each other to give up complaining for a week once. It was a very eye-opening experience, and one that I am considering again for Lent. I’m sure my family and friends would be ever so grateful if I did.
I absolutely need to give up procrastination, but I’ll need a few more days to think about that. If you could’ve seen how long I goofed off on Facebook before writing this column you’d know how serious that issue is for me.
Speaking of, I know someone who is giving up Facebook for Lent. The fact that I find that inconceivable probably means it’s something I should strongly consider.
I heard a pastor comment that we often label ourselves as being in bondage to something when perhaps all we’re really dealing with is a bad habit. They say you can break a bad habit, or acquire a good one, by doing it for 30 days consecutively.
My problem is the same as most people’s—it’s the “sticking to it for 30 days” that’s the tough part. I do well for a few days, then I forget what it is that I’m supposed to be doing. But the Lenten season is a good time to at least take a shot at self improvement.
Some suggest viewing Lent as a positive time of adding good things, instead of giving things up. I’d like to introduce one family night a week with no electronic entertainment, just quality time together. No TV, no Xbox, no—gulp!—computer. It sounds so fun to just play games, read and play together.
Hopefully I can get my technologically-addicted husband on board. Donnie says he’s already had to give up a lot, including six furlough days at work. So when I asked what he’s giving up for Lent he replied, “Giving things up.”
Think I’ll be able to convince him that a screen-free evening is adding something good to life instead of taking something away? Wish me luck.
Kari Apted is a writer and speaker residing in Georgia with her husband, three sons, and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. She writes a humorous weekly parenting column for The Covington News and freelances for various publications.more»