I grew up very, very Catholic. I mean, seriously Catholic. Like I-went-to-2-years-of-high-school-in-the-same-convent-my-mother-attended Catholic. Like the only sacraments I haven't made are "Holy Orders" and "Anointing of the Sick" -- and only a fraction of Catholics do the first, and the second is only done when you're at death's door; so frankly, I don't intend to do that one anytime soon.
It is also true that I haven't attended a Catholic mass in a very, very long time.
Still, every year, I feel the need to give something up for Lent. The following are 5 items I've given up in the past:
1. Chocolate. While I don't have a particularly big sweet tooth, I did go through a phase where I ate dark chocolate bars with some regularity. Giving this up was rather painful -- even though strangely enough, nowadays I don't remember the last time I had a chocolate bar.
2. Ice cream. I don't know what possessed me - I've always liked vanilla ice cream. This was not fun, either.
3. Alcohol. You know what's interesting about alcohol? Even when you're not a big drinker (and I never have been), nothing makes you crave alcohol like giving up alcohol at Lent. I seem to remember Easter at the end of that particular Lent being a stunningly joyous time.
4. Meat. This one actually lasted until well after Lent, resulting in me being a full-on vegetarian for a few years afterwards. These days, I'm back to eating seafood, and very occasionally even chicken, but I still toy with going straight-up vegetarian again. One of the few Lenten sacrifices that stays with me.
5. Shopping. This was actually the easiest of the five. I think it's because I'm not a huge shopper. Or at least, I'd prefer to think that's the reason, as opposed to the alternative, "I live for food."
What I'm giving up this year for Lent:
Not sure yet. I'll get back to you.
Image: One from the archives. Photographed with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens. aperture 1.4, shutter speed 1/6400, ISO 320.