I have blinked and February is almost done. Today we have eaten pancakes, and had the obligatory conversation about how we really should have them more often as we all like them so much, and tomorrow it is March, and also the start of Lent. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic; I went to Catholic schools, and so every year the expectation was that I give something up for Lent. It would always be chocolate, and each year within a couple of days, I would be stuffing down Caramacs with the excuse that they don’t contain cocoa, so didn’t count.
I no longer really practise any religion, however there is still some hangover from my youth (as well as regular reminders from my mother) that make me still try and give something up for Lent. Usually it is still chocolate, in the past I would do it to try and kick start a diet – unfortunately, as I always found some other unhealthy snack to replace chocolate, it never worked and I would end Lent as portly as I started it, if not moreso. I have also given up alcohol, crisps, sweets, cake and biscuits with varying degrees of success.
However, as an adult following Lent, I can usually stick to it; I don’t know why, as any other time of the year when I try and give something up, I have an astounding lack of willpower. I was once told I had an addictive personality (it was a tarot card reader and I’d dumped a pack of Marlboro Lights on the table before the reading, and was wearing a lighter around my neck, so maybe not such a leap), but there probably is something in that. I used to LOVE a smoke, I am partial to a drink, or several, and I can be a binge eater when the mood takes me. The long and short of it is, I’m not very good at moderation, and so I see Lent as a good way to test myself within a set timescale.
This year I will once again be giving up crisps and chocolate (though if my favourite pudding appears at the community lunch, I will make an exception for it…it wasn’t there last month and, I can’t remember EVER being more disappointed or confused by puddings; I just stood staring at the table, totally dumbfounded by its absence). I am also toying with the idea of giving up alcohol. I should probably try and give up shouting at the kids, but I feel it is silly to set myself up to fail within the first 30 minutes of Lent, and then also have to deal with the Catholic guilt that will no doubt engulf me…at least right up until the moment the shouting starts again.