Wednesday, a day before Valentine’s, I did what every member of my family had asked me never to do again.
I gave up chocolate for Lent.
Why the family solidarity, you may wonder, why the passion?
That I can trace to the 2002 Lenten season and an undignified incident in the freezer aisle of a Shawano County Walmart.
I stood, nose pressed against the glass, and screeched, “Golden ice cream sandwiches! Genius! Everybody come look! Ice cream sandwiches without any chocolate!”
My loved ones scattered, embarrassed by the lady doing the happy sugar dance in aisle 12.
Having nobly given up chocolate, I spent 40 days scrounging for alternate treats. Boston Baked Beans! “Who knew they still made these,” I gloated to an eye-rolling offspring as I happily munched a candy I hadn’t tasted in 30 years.
“Look guys, a candy named after your Grandma!” I said around a mouthful of stale Mary Janes.
A Bit-O-Honey gave me a bit-o-toothache but I gamely chewed on.
It was ridiculous.
I don’t even like candy. I’m just not good at giving things up.
In the intervening years I tried alternate Lenten projects. Random acts of kindness, scheduled at appropriate intervals, felt a little phony. Vows to attend daily mass fell short in the hustle and bustle of our hectic lives.
So, this year, I hauled out a Lenten project I knew would keep my attention. Chocolate abstinence.
We Catholics are supposed to do this quietly. We’re not supposed to let our right hand know what our left hand is doing.
I’m going to work on that this year too.
Meanwhile, does anyone have a good recipe for vanilla hot chocolate?