Five Odd Things To Give Up For Lent
Lent is a religious holiday celebrated in the Catholic Church for forty days prior to Easter. The observance begins on Ash Wednesday and goes until Easter Sunday. Traditionally, it is a period of time when worshippers deny themselves something to commemorate the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. That being said, I was raised Catholic and still give up something for Lent. However, it has become a source of inventiveness with me to give up non-traditional sacrifices. Many people will give up meat or smoking or coffee during the forty days, but I try to go for something that is a bit long-lasting, while being somewhat (at least in my mind) humorous. For all of my Catholic friends out there that are stuck on what to give up for Lent this year, why not try some of these “sacrifices”. While they may be funny and a little absurd, each of them has a special meaning and is not intended to poke fun at religion.
If you are not familiar with this word, it is because it is German and there is no exact translation into English to describe what it means. The Germans are very efficient and have words for everything. In the case of Schadenfreude, the meaning is to derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. I gave this up for Lent in 2008 and continue to do so till this day. No one really wants to see people suffer, yet, every time there is an accident on the highway, we slow down and see exactly how bad things actually are. Not me. Since giving this guilty sin up, I speed right along and pay attention to the road. I have concern for the other person’s well being, but I refuse to gawk at their loss.
In 2010 I gave up Food Porn for Lent and I have never looked back. In case you don’t know what Food Porn is, it is the act of photographing whatever you are eating and putting it on the internet. I have no idea why people do this and here is my reasoning: While you are taking pictures of your lavish $50 steak dinner with asparagus drizzled in some sort of caramelized goo followed up with a rich, raspberry cheesecake, there are people viewing this who are praying that the food they just stole out of a dumpster won’t give them e coli poisoning. While you are downing expensive martinis from that new, chic bar, another lady is agonizing that she was nine steps into a twelve step program to stop being an alcoholic and your Appletini is pushing her over the edge. Plus that, why torture people with pictures of over-caloric food that you are about to stuff down your throat? Do you get some sort of schadenfreude (see above) out of making people suffer through your pretentious meal? That’s why I refuse to take my camera out when I go to a restaurant.
Technically, this was an easy thing to give up for Lent. I am not in prison. I have never been in prison. Thus, the chances of me having prison sex are rather remote. However, the purpose of this Lenten sacrifice isn’t the actual concept of giving up having prison sex as much as it is staying OUT of prison. I figure if I always do the right thing, keep my nose clean, and avoid running red lights, I can write this 2006 Lenten promise off the books for good.
TWO PILLOWS ON MY BED
Typically, I sleep with two pillows on my bed. I do it for comfort reasons, mainly, because I like two pillows. Plus that, my wife bought four pillows and I share half of them…but not for Lent of 2007. I gave up one of my pillows for a whole forty days. Sounds like a sacrifice, doesn’t it? In actuality, the reasoning behind giving up one of my pillows is a little deeper than sleep masochism. It was an acknowledgment of the billions of people in this world that do not have the luxury of an oversized and extremely comfortable mattress and pillows to rest upon. I know it is not a lot to give up, but it is a good reminder for the not-so-fortunate in this world and what they go through every day.
Seems like an odd thing to add to this list when looking for something to give up for Lent, doesn’t it? I mean it is a religious holiday and all, so why would anyone give up prayer for forty days? I am not much of a person to pray to begin with. I wish for a lot of things to happen to me, but they typically aren’t prayers. However, you hear people ask for you to “pray for them” so their child can get good grades to play sports or that they pass their driver’s test and I think, “is this really prayer-worthy?” So, in 2005 I decided – Screw it! For forty days, I am not going to waste God’s time and pray for frivolous wishes. When there is pain and suffering throughout the world, I am not going to clutter up the cosmos by calling upon an omnipotent being to make sure they don’t forget to add extra tartar sauce on my fish sandwich like I requested because it is Lent and I really don’t like fish. If I read Facebook, I still see people asking others to pray for them so they get home in time to watch the latest episode of “How I Met Your Mother”, but now, I leave the well wishes for only things that matter.