Lenten sacrifice, in moderation


I find it bitterly ironic that Cadbury cream egg season comes around right about the same time as Lent.

This year, I said I was going to give up refined sugar, but the sight of those delicious little sweet things in the checkout aisle of KMart caused me to rethink: Maybe this time, instead, it’ll be ice cream. And then, again, I reconsidered. Why should anyone have to give up ice cream. I should just give up unreasonable eating, which usually strikes on the weekend.

You know what I mean: The Chinese takeout or the Pokey sticks as a backdrop for all the television I missed during the week now posted, for my convenience, on Hulu with limited commercial interruption by Wal-Mart.

Of course, if I give up those brief moments of ecstasy, I’m going to be a much less pleasant editor for those 40 days. And that’s not really the be-kind-to-your-neighbor philosophy I’m also trying to fulfill lately.

Ugh. Lent is sort of a dilemma for me and has a long history of being such. I’m sure many of you out there feel the same way.

See, on the one hand, it does makes sense that we should all give up something we love for a month or so, a way of showing appreciation for all the things we have and take for granted. And after Fat Tuesday and all that king cake and whatever else it is people indulge in on Fat Tuesday, people should probably want to cut back a little anyway. Belt tightening is all the rage these days, I hear.

On the other hand, it sort of feels like giving up having your bed for a week and saying you really know what it feels like to be homeless, despite your bank account and your family and your job. You can give up at any moment.

And I’ve done some excellent Lent sacrifice in my life. Once I rationalized that as long as I scooped all the fudge I could off my sundae at McDonalds, it still counted as having given up chocolate. And then there was the year I had the two or three French fries, despite having given them up. I’m not sure how I rationalized that one.

Then, in middle school, I had a friend who assured me that it’s OK to eat whatever you give up on Sundays, because Sunday is a break day. I never really checked up on that one, but it seems awfully ridiculous: Give something up for 40 days, excepting every seventh. I’m not sure that’s really in the spirit of the whole thing.

But then again, the whole idea of Lent seems a little fraudulent. I sort of feel (and I hope I’m not treading too close to blasphemy here) that any being capable of omniscience, or at least better reasoning than us humans (which doesn’t really say a whole lot, by the by), would care in the slightest who gave up chips and who skipped the sugar, particularly me, you know, a well-employed college student in America. Even during this recession, I have zero idea of want.

So what I’m toying with for this year is giving up the things in my life I take for granted, except I’m not going to just do it for 40 days. I’m going to enjoy those Cadbury eggs and Pokey sticks and “House” reruns (in moderation; well, not the “House” part), all year. That’s really the best way to appreciate what we have.

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