Lent has generally meant giving up something that I love from Ash Wednesday until Easter. In the past, especially during my teens and 20s, I gave up chocolate, ice cream, or, in the few years that I felt particularly masochistic, BOTH.
Last year, I didn’t “give up” anything as much as I tried to make sure I prayed diligently every day. My daily prayers had become automatic to the point that I was falling asleep when I said them, since I usually pray as I go to bed. I would start out with the Lord’s Prayer and then add specific Thanks and petitions. I did pretty well with this though there were days I slacked off.
This year, though, I wanted to do something that combined both sacrifice and thankfulness. The sacrifice this year is peanut butter. The trusty PB has become my (lazy) go-to meal on the run or snack. Tasty yes, healthy in small doses, yes. But I’ve been eating too much of it in place of meals and getting into bad habits when it came to snacks and even (GASP!) the occasional hurried breakfast or lunch. And where there is peanut butter, there is also… chocolate. My Achilles heal of PB is actually the Dark Chocolate Dreams by the Peanut Butter Company…
This is, truly, a delectable sacrifice that I knew that I had to make.
The thankfulness part was not one that I thought would be a problem. I try hard to be thankful for my family, friends, home, health and well being. The past few months have driven those blessings home, so to speak. I’ve been to 4 funerals and 5 wakes in the past 2 or so months. Two of the funerals were for beloved fathers of good friends. One was for an elderly grandmother of my sister-in-law. She and both men passed away in the presence of their families. As their children and grandchildren continue life without them, they are reminders of what is inevitable as one grows older. Those left behind are thankful for all that they did as well as the time they’ve had together.
The 4th funeral was for one of my best and sweetest friends. She, like the others, died with her family by her side. Everyone who knew her is thankful for the experience of being her friend. And she is sorely missed.
There have been moments, recently, where I have not been feeling thankful at all – I’ve been sad and angry. So I wasn’t sure I was fully in the mindset of “Thankfulness” when Ash Wednesday rolled around. As I sat in church, listening to the sermon and then the prayers, it hit me as to what to do for Lent.
So, that night, I decided that I would spend the next 40 days following up on whims of thankfulness. The kind of whim when you think of someone and say to yourself “Oh, that reminds me, I should call/email so&so.” But then you don’t call or email or anything. Things come up, life happens and the whim is just a memory. For Lent, then, I would follow up on the whims, one per day.
Day 1 – a thank you to a friend who has helped babysit my son for 3 of the funerals
Day 2 – an email to my former housemate who had very briefly dated my late friend; we’d been out of touch other than Christmas cards
Day 3 – a thank you to another friend who has helped with babysitting recently
Day 4 – a thank you for a neighbor who started a walking group and is a gung-ho exercise cheerleader
Day 5 – a belated birthday card to my uncle
I haven’t had a whim for Day 6 yet but I expect to pull out a Thank You or blank note card when it hits.