After being briefly befuddled by a woman on the subway this morning with a black x on her forehead, I remembered it was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. She must have received ashes on her forehead in church this morning.

Lent is the time of penance and sacrifice before Easter. It lasts for 40 days to coincide with the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, tempted by Satan. Generally, people give up a luxury in remembrance. I grew up a Presbyterian in the south, so Lent was a thing in my household. However, since we were liberal southern Presbyterians, Lent became something of a family joke. One year, my uncle announced he was giving up raisins. My uncle is not particularly religious nor does he eat raisins so God only knows where that came from.

My Dad always gave up sweets and every year his sacrifice followed the same general pattern. Two or three weeks into it, the Girl Scout Cookies would be delivered, my sister and I would have forgotten all about Lent and say, “Hey Dad do you want a Thin Mint…oh sorry, I forgot.”

One time at a barbecue restaurant I had a similar memory lapse and reminded my dad that they had banana pudding, his favorite dessert, on the menu. I thought he was going to burst into tears.

I gave up chocolate one year and lost seven pounds. But I had a more important realization. Giving up chocolate didn’t make me think about Jesus more, it made me think about chocolate more.

So in the spirit of worshipping whatever deity you affiliate yourself with (if any,) eat whatever you want. And save money!

Audrey, the New School
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