As part of today's lesson, we discussed Lent (which, for those of you who don't know, begins this week.) I explained the concepts of "prayer, sacrifice, and service" in a way which (I hope!) made sense to the Small and Young; they cottoned on to the 'sacrifice something you enjoy' pretty quickly.
The middle child - the one we've long joked has had a calling to the priesthood - immediately said he'd be giving up "things with sugar in them." (I told him that was rather a tall order for a six-year-old, so we're working on a compromise.) The oldest, a/k/a King of Drama, said that he would give up dessert, playing with Legos, and all computer-related activity. He, too, got persuaded into something a bit more reasonable.
Then they went on their merry ways, and I realized that I don't know what I'm going to give up for Lent. Hmph! I'm fond of the idea that what you give up doesn't have to be a material thing - you can give up a bad habit, for example.
One year, I gave up being sarcastic for Lent (or I tried to, anyway.) I've given up "yelling at the children" during a few of the past Lenten seasons - which tends to go better than I think it will, and definitely increases the amount of time I spend in prayer! (It also increases the amount of time I spend with my tongue clenched between my teeth, but there you go.)
The other thing about Lent, at least in my house, is that my husband was, is, and will always be inclined to competition. Allow me to illustrate. The year I gave up chocolate, he gave up dessert. The year I gave up dessert, he gave up all sweets. The year I gave up dessert (what, you thought I'd
give up all sweets? Pshaw!), he gave up all sweets and alcohol. The year I gave up caffeine, he gave up dessert, alchohol, and caffeine. I know that that's just the way he is - he's not competing with me as much as he is trying to best himself - but it can be, well. Let's call it "challenging."
And just to make things more interesting, nearly his entire family is the same way, and we've traditionally spent Easter with them. As you might've guessed, this means that I get to spend the days leading up to Easter listening to all of them bewailing the miseries they've suffered throughout the season.
I have to admit that there's a part of me that would like to give up something so huge, so major, so un-give-up-able, that they'd all be astounded at my ability to sacrifice.
It'd go something like this:
BROTHER-IN-LAW: Wow, it's Thursday. Only three more days! I can't wait to get my hands on that Easter candy - did I mention I gave up candy for Lent?
HUSBAND: Yeah, well, I gave up candy for Lent once - it wasn't that bad. This year, though, I gave up candy AND coffee AND alcohol. I can't decide if I'm going to have coffee or a beer when we get back from mass.
FATHER-IN-LAW: Oh yeah? I'll just be happy to have a small cup of milk once we get back, since I gave up all beverages with flavor for Lent!
ME: *holds up sign* So? This year, I gave up OXYGEN. I haven't inhaled since ASH WEDNESDAY!
(And yes, I am aware that this attitude is definitely not in the spirit of things!)
Oh, yeah. You knew it was coming.