It's Fat Tuesday today.....the scale tells me so, as well as the calendar.
Lent starts tomorrow, and it couldn't come at a better time; I need the discipline of someone else's agenda to get me kick-started. I usually give up something for Lent every year, not because I am even remotely devout, but out of habit, plain and simple. (After attending Catholic schools for 14 years, you tend to get neurological pathways imprinted into your brain that are hard to shake off.) When I was a kid, the nuns would always encourage us to give up something for the duration. (They said it was to remind us of the sacrifices that Jesus made for us, but I think it was mostly because they wanted to see our true personalities when we weren't all jacked up on sugar.) They said that we should give up things like candy, or sugar or chips, but we would always try to get away with things like homework, or liver or lion-taming. They never fell for it.
In the past, I have usually given up chocolate. It isn't terribly hard; 40 days isn't so long that you can't put up with it, and long enough to establish a new habit, if that's what you're after. I remember reading about a guy who had been thrown into jail for his political views by Mao-Tse Tung in the '70's and he ended up there for about 10 years, and when he got out they asked him how he kept his sanity, and he replied that you can stand anything if you know it's going to end. So, really, Lent's not that bad.
The problem with giving up chocolate is remembering that you have done so....it's just painful to realize that, two bites in, you aren't allowed to finish what you've started. And it is a bit hard on the Lindor bunnies when it's all over....I massacre a couple of them right off the bat. Also, the definition of chocolate becomes an issue; am I allowed Fudgesicles, but not a Crispie Crunch? I tend to lean towards the side of flexibility on this one, but you knew that would be the case.
We also have the question of exactly when Lent is over.....nobody can answer this diffinitively.
My father asserts that it is after midnight on Good Friday, but my mother claims that it is after mass on Easter Sunday morning. My friend The Reverend Wendy, an Anglican minister, says that she figures after midnight on Holy Saturday. I like my dad's idea, since that gets me off the hook sooner.
This year, along with the usual chocolate, I will be giving up second helpings of anything. (y enjoyment of my food is beginning to make itself known in the fit of my pants, and that bad habit should be the first to go.) I can make it stick for 40 days, I know, but come Easter, I make no promises when it comes to slaughtering Lindor bunnies.