‘WHAT are you giving up for Lent?’ Surely this is one of the top five questions asked in Ireland during the first week of Lent and rarely spoken about in the weeks after as one by one we succumb to temptation.
Those I live with seem to thrive on Lenten challenges.
“I’m giving up chocolate.”
“I’m giving up biscuits.”
Last year, in a rather weak moment, I said I’d give up tea, which if I’m honest I’d no intention of doing, so this year I was ready.
“Well Mum, what are you giving up?”
I took a deep breath, “I’m not doing Lent this year.”
They were having none of it, reminding me that those who do Lent get an extra large Easter Egg. I suggested I’d buy myself one.
As we make our way into week three it looks like they are sticking to their Lenten promises. Looking at them embracing the challenge I wondered, where was my competitive spirit?
So I set myself a secret challenge. Having for decades ignored religious fast days I thought I’d try, for one day only, to survive with one main meal, without meat, and two collations. Forget about the alcohol, if I made it to the end of the day I reasoned I deserved a glass of wine.
So last Friday I began with a breakfast of tea and hot buttery toast. As I finished and licked my fingers I did the maths, no more food until lunchtime, five hours away, There’s something about being told you can’t do something which makes you fixate on doing it.
‘Keep off the grass.’ You just have to put a toe on it.
‘Wet paint.’ Well, you must check if it really is wet.
‘No eating between meals.’ You’re starving all day.
I lost count of the number of times I boiled the kettle before remembering my secret challenge. At 11am I accepted I was not likely to succeed if I stayed at home so I left for a walk, returning at my new early lunchtime of midday. I inhaled my lovely fresh smelling roll and reached for some ham before remembering, no ham today. I cut some cheese, which is nothing like ham and searched the fridge for something to disguise it with.
Closing my eyes I relished every bite. However, with each bite, I came closer to the end. I glanced at the clock and panic struck, collation number two was almost finished and it was only 12.10pm, another six hours until the main event.
I’d barely finished lunch when the biscuit press starting whistling and shouting at me. I could feel myself getting hangry. Apart from those awaiting surgery or the Pope, did anyone really fast like this?
But I was determined to prove to myself I could do this. I was not too old for a challenge.
By 4pm I had begun to go out of my mind. It was then I found myself kneeling in front of the biscuit press giving it a good sniff. After that, I think I must have blacked out as I cannot remember how a packet of chocolate biscuits miraculously appeared on the kitchen table. Maybe it was my thinking of the Pope earlier?
Picking the packet up, I accidentally shook it. Numerous large chunks of chocolate chip and crumbly biscuit fell out. Before my conscience had time to speak, I ate them.
Returning the much lighter packet to the press I licked my chocolate lips and surrendered. I was not the competitive animal I used to be.
Moments later, cup of tea in hand and munching a biscuit, I was discovered that failure didn’t actually taste too bad.
Although I’ve a new respect for those doing Lent.
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