HOW PEOPLE GAVE UP ON GIVING UP
Lent is upon us, or at least upon Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians. It’s more of a Christian thing, but I guess anyone is welcome to do it. Lent is the time before Easter that the Christian Church devotes to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. Most Churches that observe Lent start on Ash Wednesday and carry on through the next 40 days (week days). I’m not religious so I don’t do Lent. I’ve never been much for self-denial. They say less is more, but I’m no sucker. More is more. So, more please! If I did observe Lent, I’m not sure what I would give up because there’s so much stuff I like. I couldn’t give up T.V. How will I make snide comments about the Bachelor? And really, that’s the only reason to watch that emotional train wreck. I can’t give up Girl Scout cookies. I buy a lot of Thin Mints so those scouts can go to camp. I’ve sent more little girls into the woods than the Brothers Grimm and Aesop combined! And I certainly can’t be expected to give up my weekly, underground, 3:00 a.m. cockfight.
That would just make for a lot of unemployed roosters. They’ve got a lot of beaks to feed.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to make it clear that I think Lent is a good thing. I think it’s great to have to give up something every once in a while whether you’re religious or not. If we go without for a period of time, it could make us appreciate what we have more and have a better understanding of others who have considerably less. Lent is a good experiment in restraint, humility, conservation and living simply, even if only for 40 days. So that makes me wonder about all the people I either know or know of who really don’t get Lent. I mean they get it, but they don’t GET it. What I’m saying is, stop giving up silly stuff for Lent. People “sacrifice” the goofiest things. When Ash Wednesday rolls around, it’s suddenly like a canned food drive at a middle school. Somebody looks in the back of their kitchen cabinet, pulls out that 12 year old can of pumpkin pie filling and thinks to themselves, “I’m making a difference!” If you’re gonna do it, do it right.
I know a lady who gave up desserts for Lent. All desserts. One day we had a cake for another co-worker’s birthday party and low and behold, there she was with a piece of freshly sliced, three layer birthday cake. Being the inquisitive young lad that I am, I asked about eating cake when she had given up desserts for Lent. She looked me in the eye with all sincerity and not an ounce of humility and said, “Yeah, but this is birthday cake.” What? I’m pretty sure God can see you. Maybe you should eat it in the broom closet with the lights off. He’ll never see you in there.
Food is usually the first thing to get thrown into the Lent pile. Some people give up food to jump-start a diet or as a precursor to eating healthier. And I say, NAY! Stop trying to horn in on Lent’s action. You get healthy on your own time. If I had a dollar for everyone who said they were giving up candy for Lent, I’d be changing the name on the Willy Wonka factory to Chris’ Candy Shack. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I’ll finally give the Oompa Loompas a 401k and stock options. You can’t just give up candy for a while and expect that to count! “Jesus, you made the ultimate sacrifice... I’m gonna do you one better Jesus. I’ll give up Snickers bars for 30... no wait! 40 days! You’re welcome.”
Beyond candy and cake, some people actually give up pretty big things. I knew of someone who was going to give up sex for 40 days. I’ve given up sex for 40 days before, and by give up I mean no women wanted to sleep with me for a period of 40 days. This guy giving up sex was a pretty big deal and you might say admirable. But the thing is, he wasn’t married. Which makes it pre-marital sex, which makes it a sin. YOU CAN’T GIVE UP SIN FOR LENT DUMMY! Cut to an image of Jesus smacking his forehead and letting out a Homer Simpsonesque “D’oh!” Not everyone is frivolous with Lent, but I personally don’t know anyone who isn’t. If you’re out there, feel free to let me know. I don’t think they all do it intentionally either. They just haven’t really thought it out any further. Maybe give up a little bit of money each day to your favorite charities. Cash is pretty tight these days, so why not sacrifice your time to help a kid read or build a house for an elderly woman who lost it all in a fire? I’m sure you’ll think of something. If you do give up something, just dispense with the little stuff and try to think big. You can do it and I bet you’ll be glad you did.
Hey wait, I decided on what I could give up for Lent. Empty gestures.