Bon Mardi Gras! (I think Mardi is a masculine noun, not a feminine noun - but for you Francophiles out there who are rolling your eyes in disgust at my poor grammar - just pretend that I added an extra "ne" to the end of the first word and we'll call it even. Ok?)
I always say that I'm sort of half-Catholic because I grew up in Corpus Christi and you can't help but soak in some teachings of the Church when you grow up there. Or maybe it's just me. Regardless, for most of my life (since I was about 13), I've found some way to acknowledge Lent. The last few years got a bit tough because for quite a while I was eating neither meat (not even fish) nor sugar. For one or two years I gave up alcohol (kind of annoying but not the end of the world) and on one particularly poorly-planned-out year I attempted to give up caffeine.
Now that was bad.
I even thought I'd planned it out so well. For weeks ahead of time, I weaned myself off of caffeine. I got myself down to one cup of coffee a day by the time Fat Tuesday hit, but from Ash Wednesday on, I was incapacitated from headaches. My boss at the time (a very wonderful lady whom I miss terribly) kept telling me that God did not intend for me to be in such pain for His sake.
Hmmm. Have I ever mentioned how hard-headed I am? I have? Well, then you can imagine my headache-induced reaction to such unsolicited advice. Yup. And she didn't even fire me.
Finally, my husband used some sort of theological argument (which escapes me at the moment) to convince me that by allowing myself half of a cup of coffee each morning, I would be in a better position to worship during Lent because I wouldn't be rushing home in excruciating pain after only two hours of work every single day. He had a point - so for the rest of that particular Lent, I gave up all but 1/2 a cup of coffee every morning.
This year, however, because of lifestyle changes, I have all sorts of Lenten options. I'm eating meat again (because I had neither iron nor B12 in my blood) and I even allow myself the occasional sugar-laden treat nowadays. (I know. I'm insane.) So this year, I decided I'd be somewhat traditional and give up meat (but I'd continue to eat fish). This is going to be interesting. I was a vegetarian for six years and it was kind of hard to start eating meat when I changed my diet a few months ago. But now...truth be told...I'm all used to my meaty diet and it really does feel like a sacrifice to go veg-head again.
So in my book this is a real Lenten sacrifice. Plus - by giving up meat - my little squares of Ghiradelli dark chocolate are safe and sound. Nice....