Close your eyes for a minute and…wait, no.
Pretend to close your eyes for a minute and think about the holidays throughout the year—Christmas, Easter, Lent, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.—and what you associate with them.
Now pretend to close your eyes and—I can’t believe I’m about to say this—take out the food. What do you associate with them? Does it change the holiday for you at all?
Let’s get this out of the way and say that I’m a fan of food, albeit of the vegetarian variety, a phenomenon that my Polish kielbasa-loving family has yet to comprehend. Holidays and food are forever linked together for good reason. Food is a wonderful way to bring people together, to keep traditions alive and to share in the bounty of the land blah, blah, blah. I’m all for tradition and food.
Looking past the paczki, this ramble stems from the fact that quite a few people use food in connection with faith in odd ways.
Let’s take a look at Lent.
I’m not religious, but from what I learned in years of catechism, Lent isn’t about picking up diet habits that were left by the wayside (three weeks after New Year’s resolutions were made) so you can look a bit better for Spring Break.
All around me people who haven’t been to church in months claim to be giving up sugary drinks, dessert, foods that come from restaurants with arches, etc. in the name of the lord.
Call me crazy—it’s been done—but I think religion would prefer you indulge in a daily Frappuccino rather than push someone out of your way as you rush to get the new $500 iPhone (whatever number they’re on now) or “forget” to volunteer an hour of your time once a month.
I know chocolate Easter eggs and helping old people cross the street aren’t mutually exclusive, but isn’t the point of Lent—and the spirit of most religious holidays—more about a pledge to help other people rather than a pledge to avoid certain foods?
If it’s really about self-examination, devotion and focusing less on yourself and more on others, will not eating cookies for 40 days help with these goals?
So just for a minute, remove the food and render it a non-factor for Lent or the like.
Would it change an attitude, an action, the spirit of the season?
Would people be posting Facebook updates about how they’re going to do one nice thing for someone every day instead of how they’re on day three of no donuts? Would they be as excited about giving something as they would be about taking a “bad” food away?
If you want to give something up, I completely understand and respect all those traditions. It’s not about that, as I hope I made clear, but rather about the motivation behind the actions. If I didn’t make that clear and you’re ticked, perhaps for Lent you should give up being oversensitive and lighten up—and I don’t mean give up donuts.
Just some food for thought.