Lent begins tomorrow! For the non-Catholics in the house, Lent is a period of 40 days leading up to Easter during which Catholics (and certain other Christians) sacrifice something to commemorate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert enduring temptation from the devil (or at least that's what this Wikipedia entry says). In case you didn't know, many members of Team HCG are Catholic. Making a Lenten sacrifice is one of our favorite Catholic traditions because (1) it's trendy, and (2) people like to talk about it at cocktail parties. Word gets passed around of who is doing the hardest sacrifice and who has already quit. There is talk of the people who choose to "do" something rather than give up something, and everyone usually agrees those people are slackers.
Most Lenten sacrifices involve food or alcohol. CF, for example, is going big this year and sacrificing all forms of candy (including her all-time favorite candy, sour gummy worms (a.k.a. "squirms"), shown above). We give her a week.
I endured my most difficult Lenten sacrifice in 2005 when I gave up reality TV. I do not exaggerate when I recall that it was pure hell (isn't that the point of Lenten sacrifices, though - a little taste of hell? You think it was EASY for Jesus to go without food and water for 40 days and 40 nights? Or to carry that damn CROSS? Sorry, Jesus, but I don't think I can make it 40 days without "16 and Pregnant"). In Lent '05, I was a first year law student living alone in the metropolis of Carlisle, PA. Reality TV was in its prime, and there was little original programming available. It was all Laguna Beach, ANTM and The Bachelor/Bachelorette, all the time (disclosure: I no longer watch The Bachelor. The chicks got too slutty). All that was really left was Oprah, and I devoured every episode like a recovering alcoholic who got a hold of some O'Doul's at her niece's christening. My sister put it accurately when she called me and asked, "Why would you ever take on a sacrifice that might kill you?" It really was that hard.
Since 2005, I've tried lots of different sacrifices, including the usual sweets, chocolate, and carbs (the carbs sacrifice was a little more self serving than the others, I'll admit). One year I even tried to give up cursing, but it was a worthless pursuit. Some of the most impressive modern day sacrifices I know of include giving up all forms of celebrity gossip (Caitlin - you know where I stand on this. I have never known a stronger woman. What would be the point of living?) and Facebook (Woodhouse - did you really miss it?).
The trick in choosing a perfect Lenten sacrifice is to find something that isn't too hard that you're destined to fail but is challenging enough to make you feel nervous about giving it up. I knew I had my sacrifice when I felt panicked at the thought of choosing it.
This year, I am sacrificing unnecessary shopping (with a strict definition of what is necessary). Obviously, it excludes boring shopping, like food shopping, gift shopping and replenishing of supplies shopping (i.e., buying more Creme de Corps). To many, this may sound easy. For me, it will be a daily struggle (especially in the era of HCG). No lunchtime jaunts to H&M, no browsing in Sephora for new lip gloss, no weekend trips to New York. No buying stuff because it's awesome and it will make your life better. It will be a dark 40 days.
Good luck to the HCG readers enduring Lenten sacrifices themselves. Our thoughts are with you.