Lent choices entertaining for parents

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2001

Lent is the season of sacrifice undertaken by many Christians to symbolize the 40 days that Christ wandered in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. To make a sacrifice means to give up something that you like or that means a lot to you. Not all religions sacrifice during Lent but it has become common to do so.

Going to nursing school at a Catholic college and then working at a Catholic hospital, I began the practice of giving up something at Lent. If I remember correctly the habit fell by the wayside until my school-age children began learning about Lent. When you are trying to teach your children a lesson it usually works best if you show by example.

One year my son Matthew and I decided to give up soft drinks. Those of you who know me are aware that I have this little personal problem with Diet Coke, but not a serious one. OK, worse than mild but not serious. OK, OK, just because I go straight from coffee in the morning to Diet Coke probably makes it borderline serious. Anyway, I decided to do this with Matthew to help him.

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Matthew was in the fifth grade during this Lenten season and neither of us had remembered that he would be playing youth league basketball at this time. After each game he would turn down the free soft drink and have water instead. I think he only slipped once. I on the other hand almost went berserk. Without my almost constant supply of caffeine I developed a withdrawal headache that lasted for three or four days. I got so bad that my co-workers began offering to buy me some Diet Coke. We were both glad when Easter morning came, I drank a Diet Coke on the way to church.

My favorite sacrifice by one of our children was the year our daughter Holly decided to give up sweets. Well, that’s how the 40 days started. She came home from school and informed me that she had made up her mind to give up sweets. I tried to explain to her how broad that category was – to no avail.

By nightfall we had ruled out chocolate as a sweet and also gum. By the next evening we had ruled out cookies and brownies. Three nights later ice cream, Easter M&Ms and Sweet Tarts were off the list. By the end of the week she was down to giving up pie. Easter morning she very self-righteously announced how successful she had been, not cheating on her pie sacrifice even once.

David and I both had to hide our smiles as we gently reminded her that it only counts as a sacrifice if it is something you like. And since she has always disliked pie of any kind since she was a toddler God might not view this as a true sacrifice.

The baby in the family, Emily, was not to be left out last year; she gave up candy. It was a real struggle for her, and if I recall correctly she only slipped a few times. It evidently made quite an impression her. This year she offered to give up school, homework and vegetables, in that order. She nixed the idea of sacrificing a little television time, so we are still trying to reach a compromise.

Once, right after David and I married I decided to try a meatless meal. I baked bread and made this huge chef salad. It had everything in it you could possible want in a salad. Imagine my surprise when after consuming two large bowls David asked me what was for dinner.

I have decided that if you don’t believe God has a sense of humor just try living with a three children and a carnivorous husband.

Christina Hall is the food editor at The Democrat. She can be reached at 442-9101 or by e-mail at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.