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Challenge: Your Special Traditions

Lent Me Your Ears

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It’s always about this time, during the Lenten season, that I start checking the calendar for an end date. Is it over yet? Am I done? Can I go back to being a heathen? Why am I doing this?

Did you know that “Lent” is called “Lent” after an old English word meaning “lengthen” because when this 40-day debacle happens, the days start to get longer? I suppose the intention was representative of the arrival of spring and later bedtimes, but…what the heck, yeah, these days are getting longer.

I know. You’d think I was an actual Catholic.

I’m not.

Nor am I Episcopalian, though it has been my preferred sanctuary over recent years. And by “preferred” I mean I have made less than a dozen appearances. I’ll write that blog someday, the one that explains where I currently sit on the religion map.

But for today, I am just trying to remember when in the good lawd’s name Easter will arrive and cancel out this quest for betterment.

Will it be the first weekend in April? Or the second? Or neither? It used to be so easy. Four score and seven years ago, the schools would just schedule spring break so that the bunny-tail-end would land on Easter Weekend. What a blessing that was, both in the keeping of my calendar and in collection of the candy filled eggs. Imagine if the administration had used teacher-friendly common sense and placed Easter on that first weekend of the break, thus forcing us parents to pass out baskets of sugar prior to having our children home for an entire week.

But alas, no longer. I’m sure that pattern was canceled due to an uproar from some do-gooder trying for fairness.

Thanks.

Now, I have no idea when I can stop this sacrificial tailspin.

Lent.

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I actually have no reason to tie myself down to Lent yet I do, year after year, despite my annual internal protests to let it go. Long ago, I did go the sacrificial route. I used to join my high school friends in deciding what we would forgo for six weeks while dutifully eating the fish sticks doled out each Friday. It helped that I really loved fish sticks, I suppose. It helped that my friends did not. Six weeks of judgment free time with the Gordon’s fisherman.

I don’t remember when I first understood that I should have been kicking off those six weeks of sacrifice with a last-chance-bonanza, but I suspect it coincided with my arrival at the legal drinking age. College meant hunting down reasons to throw parties and Fat Tuesday was exactly on target for our drinking demographic. Hangover Wednesday followed with a promise to “never drink again.” That quickly changed to, “at least not until after Lent.” Of course, by Friday, all was tossed out the window with the justification that “Jesus made this wine for a reason.”

Is Boone’s Farm a wine? Just asking.

Somewhere during the past few decades, I stopped giving things up, in a biblical but also Joan of Arc way, and turned Lent into more of a “how can I improve my life” thing. One year, I ignored the scale for six weeks. When I realized how freeing it felt to just stroll on by each morning, I realized how much I had needed the break. Another year, I dedicated daily time to writing down things I was grateful for. Still another, I greeted myself at every mirror with a few positive words, rather than the usual critiques. That was quite nice.

I suppose it was when I gained this insta-family that I shifted my Lenten quest again. It probably started with a pledge not to strangle any children or side-eye my husband for one whole day and slowly evolved to a 40-day aspiration. Yes, a kinder, gentler Mom. That’s the ticket. I began to pick a key word or phrase and zone in for each season, always keeping it to myself. That way if there was really no noticeable difference, well, no big deal, right?

This year? Benefit of the Doubt.

I am putting an honest effort into not jumping to the worst conclusions when those around me appear to misstep, both inside of my house and out. Okay, mostly inside. It is not easy. Especially on those days when I am cranky and it is cloudy and there is just not enough coffee in this world to face countertops full of crumbs, the horizontal closets of teens, or a husband that (still) can’t remember that we are leaving on vacation next week. Outside of the house, there is the struggle of dealing with a reopening public and, my gawd, does nobody know how to navigate the aisles at Target anymore?

Can somebody just please tell me when Easter is?

I am making strides.

Just yesterday, I asked my husband if we could go to lunch with friends on Saturday. His response was, “I guess? We don’t have anything going on do we?” I very casually responded, “Not until the afternoon - two soccer games and my birthday.” No really. I did not get bowed up or upset or angry. Honestly. Ironically, he was actually baiting me by pretending that he’d forgotten my milestone.

Evidently, these past 753 days of giving people the benefit of the doubt have had some impact. It actually did not cross my mind that he might have forgotten that his favorite person in the entire world would be turning another year older. A few weeks ago, I’d have shot fire from my eye holes. Today, not so much. He was a bit shocked, to be honest. That was quite nice.

But seriously, when is Easter again?

There’s a lady who didn’t return her shopping cart that I’ve been dying to track down.

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