Lent…What are You Giving Up?

Today is Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent. Many churches, both Catholic and Protestant, use these 40 days before Easter as a time to reflect on the 40 days Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. It is a very deep and meaningful time of reflection and sacrifice. It is also something I have not practiced in a long, long time.

Growing up Catholic, I remember certain things about Lent. We would not eat meat on Fridays, and we had to give up something we liked as a sacrifice to God. I went to Catholic School, so on Ash Wednesday we would go to mass and get the ashes to symbolize death and repentance. All I remember is hoping the priest wouldn’t make the cross on my forehead too big with thick ashes. The nuns would always yell at me because my hands are forever in my hair, and I would rub off the ashes “by accident”.

I looked forward to Friday night dinners because it was usually fish sticks and tater tots, or we would get to go to McDonalds for the filet-o-fish meal. I’m sure we had other things like pasta or tuna casserole, but when you are a kid french fries and tater tots win every time. I think we would also get pizza for lunch in school. We did not normally have food from a school cafeteria. We always brought lunch from home, ate at our desks and was given a small milk carton to drink. But if I remember correctly, we would get to have Ellio’s cheese pizza on Fridays during Lent. Are there any other Catholics out there who can confirm this for me? I know all schools are different, but we moved a lot, so I went to several schools in my elementary years. Let me know in the comments.

For Lent we would also have to give up something as a symbol of sacrifice. I don’t remember what I gave up, but knowing me, it was probably something I could do without anyway. What I do remember is my grandmother. Nan would give up the same thing every year…ice cream. She loved it and every night while watching television she would have a small scoop or two. But when Lent rolled around, she was so good about giving it up. As a family we stopped participating in Lent when we started going to a Protestant church when I hit middle school. I had forgotten all about it but knew my grandmother still did it. I went to visit her one Sunday in spring. We were hanging out and she offered me some ice cream…all of a sudden it hit me…it was Lent! I was like, what are you doing? Didn’t you give that up? She laughed and told me that since all Sundays were feast days, you did not have to sacrifice on that day. I really didn’t believe her, I thought she was using me being there as an excuse to sneak in some Breyer’s, but I looked it up and of course she was right. I don’t think I ever knew that…hmmmm…did my mother not tell us on purpose? Maybe, just maybe.

Anyway, it hit me this year that I miss participating in a more structured liturgical year. I love my church. We are a non-denominational church and we do not go through the year like that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do certain things on my own. I don’t know about the no meat on Fridays thing and I know I will not be getting ashes, but I can certainly give up something. I can offer this up as a sacrifice to God and I won’t even do it on Sundays. Any guesses what it may be? I am going to give up smoking for Lent. I have tried a lot of times in my life to quit, but I have never really been serious about it. But, I know I should quit, so that is what I am going to do. And yes, it will be a sacrifice, because even though it is bad for my health, blah, blah, blah…I like to smoke, I enjoy smoking. (for those of you wondering…I am talking cigarettes. Just the smell of the other gives me a migraine)

So, as we go through the season, if you are a church goer, maybe spend some time in reflection of what Lent is all about. It doesn’t have to be hardcore fasting and a bunch of rules, but Jesus gave us the greatest sacrifice, so the question is what little thing can we do for Him.

***Question for the comments…Have you ever participated in Lent? What do you remember about the experience? Do you participate now?

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Hi, I'm Tracie. I am a writer, reader, life coach, lover of the city and the beach. I am a big fan of all things caffeinated. I dig things from many different decades, but am a definite child of the 80's. My blog is about everything and anything my mind conjures up. Enjoy the ride.

15 thoughts on “Lent…What are You Giving Up?

  1. A couple things…
    I remember the Elios pizza at lunch , however, I’m not sure if that was during Lent, since the school had no way to heat it up.
    Great memory of Nan and her ice cream…. I can plainly see it in my mind’s eye.
    What to give up… There are 3 things I can give up – cigars, alcohol or beer. I chose beer.
    Oh, BTW, do you have any memory of Mom giving herself ashes?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe they heated it up at the convent and rectory? Of course beer is the logical choice for you. I have no memory of Mom and her ashes, but Valerie told me this morning about your convo. that’s typical of her, lol.


  2. Got my ashes! Am fasting and am giving up SlimJims for Lent. Mom’s tuna casserole was the GROSSEST thing ever! Gave me a migraine even as a little kid. Nan and her ice cream. She was so cute about it. What is it with old people and their ice cream and candy? But I digress. I have definitely graduated from Mrs Paul’s fish sticks to Gorton’s crispy battered fish filets. But last week I had shrimp. I’ll make my own fries, though. All I can say is Thank God St. Patty’s Day is on a Thursday. I would go crazy without my Colcannon. And since we’re 1/2 Irish it’s NOT cultural appropriation. Mmm…I wish it were dinner-time…fasting sucks. On any given day. I can easily not eat until it least 3. Today, I’m freaking STARVING. I’ll survive. Maybe…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember Lent in school. My parents didn’t bring us to church so we didn’t have to participate in Lent at home. As I got older I participated and would give up certain foods and actually loved the process. I worked on not using swear words. During the rest of the year if I swore my friends would laugh and say “oh my so close to Lent” 😂. Now that I’m not part of that denomination I don’t observe lent but I do a 21 day fast with lots of Bible study at the beginning of the year to seek first the Kingdom of God. I love that time!! As for your quitting smoking, I know you’re going to persevere and conquer! Peace and Blessings to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s cool, to fast at the beginning of the year. I like it. As for smoking…I think this is actually the first time I gave it to God…interesting. I wonder why I never did before.


  4. Hahaha…this topic is great….last night I was mixing with Chris he mentioned that today would be ash Wednesday, so I asked what’s that…he said it the time to prepare for lent…it’s s time to remember where we came from born of earth and breathed to life and how our bodies would return to the dust…preparing our mind and hearts for what Jesus has done for us when he took the cross…Chris also mentioned how it’s customary to give up somthing from now till easter…I know you mentioned no meat on Fridays and stuff…my next question I asked Chris was what are you going to give up this year…he wasn’t sure…so I suggested maybe give up chewing tobacco and he immediately squirmed in his seat…then about half way through the bucket of kava he looked at me and said you know what I’m gonna trust in God and fast chewing tobacco…then he asked me what about you…what are letting go of….I told him our church doesn’t participate in that hahaha !!!! But before the bucket was through I made a decision to stop eating rice for as long as he doesn’t chew tobacco, you should have seen the smile on his face…knowing I would sacrifice something and join in with him in his endeavor…so this year’s I guess I’m doing lent…my prayer is after a few months of denying his flesh of tobacco when he tries it again he won’t have the urge to go back and if he does go back…it’ll be so nasty he think twice and stay without it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome…I thought for a minute you were going to say mixing….lol…I know it was a long shot. Our church definitely does not follow any sort of liturgical calendar, which is cool in a way, but I miss some of the things involved in a traditional church. Trust God with the rice and Chris and I will trust God with the tobacco. Just focus on Jesus and not the countdown.


  5. In Ohio my church celebrated Ash Wednesday with open church. It is a time where each person, couple or family can go in and pray together in silence with God. There is a short program to follow which includes the ashes. I do miss the structure of a traditional church service. I miss saying The Lord’s a Prayer together as a church. I miss the Glory of Patri with the collection of the offering………. I love the more contemporary music but I do love hymns. I really just love singing praises to the Lord. Nothing I can give up can compare with the sacrifice Jesus made for us. On Maundy Thursday we had evening service. Church us open on Good Friday for individual worship. Saturday is the Easter Egg hunt and party for the children. I was the head of the Alter committee so Saturday after the children’s party I would go in and decorate the Alter and sanctuary with all of the Easter flowers for Sunday service. Sunday Sunrise service was held at a small old church further out in the country across from the farm where my husband grew up. I never attended that service. Not sure why???? Easter morning I did a variety of things. The most favorite was taking a picture of the families with their Easter finest. Some as they entered, others by the Alter with all the flowers. For many years I want in our choir. Later on I became the Director until we did not have enough singers for a traditional choir. I then was asked to be Worship leader like James but we want mostly Traditional hymns with a couple contemporary songs at the beginning of service led by someone else. Sorry, I got lost in tradition. Life with the Lord leads us different places. Not a church song but I always liked REO Speedway in “Roll With The Changes” Keep on Rollin………

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand. There are a lot if things in the seasons of Lent and Easter. I love the hymns. That’s what we sang in my old church many moons ago in Baltimore where I was in youth group.


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