Like any good Catholic I plan to spend Mardi Gras doing all those things I perceive to be off limits for the next six weeks (eating my weight in junk food, drinking excessively), followed, of course, by a guilty session thinking ahead to Lent.
Each year for Lent I choose to give up alcohol (sometimes just bourbon) in some strange effort to prove to myself that I am not an actual alcoholic. Allow me to define: I maintain that an actual alcoholic could not withstand the requisite 40 days of Lent without a drink unless they were locked up in a rehab center. My three kids are proof that I’ve survived longer than 40 days–40 weeks, in fact– without a drink or a rehab center (although it was touch and go with the youngest one).
Why, if I enjoy a drink so much, would I give up alcohol? I subscribe to the Catholic belief (or perhaps just something a crazy priest once told me) that a Lenten sacrifice should be the hardest thing you can think of to give up. None of this wimpy, “I’m giving up Burger King,” when in actuality there isn’t a Burger King for 30 miles. Or my favorite is when someone chooses to give up something they are allergic to, or that they can no longer afford. If we’re going that route then I choose to give up blue cheese and a Lexus; no problem.
Giving up alcohol always seems like a good idea when:
a. I’m celebrating Mardi Gras and feel justified to drink enough to last the next 40 days
b. I wake up the next morning (no doubt)
c. I’m sitting at Ash Wednesday Mass feeling pious and smug for being able to give up something with a little more meat to it than say—well, meat.
John maintains that if I truly want to choose the most difficult thing, I will give up my iPhone. But that wouldn’t be difficult at all–I’d just go back to using….wait, what is it I did before my iPhone?
Well, maybe John’s right. I’ll just think it over with a glass of bourbon; I have the whole day to decide.