Am I Really Eating My Friday Fish Sticks with a Side of Bacon?

A no no. A big no no.

A no no. A big no no.

The season of Lent is here. Hooray?

I am Catholic. I was raised Catholic, attended twelve years of Catholic education, and am now completing the circle of life by sending my daughter to a parochial school so she too will know the wonder of plaid polyester. And only owning two pairs of “layman’s” pants.

As Catholics, we repent during Lent and wait for the joy and celebration of Easter. This means, we give up something we really like, then bitch about it for forty days.

Taking stock on all the goings on around me during this time, I have come to a conclusion: I suck at Lent.

I think it has something to do with being a veteran Catholic; I was born into this religion. There are many New Catholic (NC) converts at our church, and they are really making us craggy Catholics look bad.

Let me demonstrate:

1)      Sacrifice. One must give up something (e.g. a vice) during this time.

  1. Veteran: Oh I give up alright, by literally giving up. I have been doing this so long that I have given up everything except air. Us oldies don’t like to tell others what we are doing because if we screw up (inevitably) others will know and shame us. Then we feel terrible for messing up. It’s the cycle we grew up with: Shame-Guilt-Shame-Guilt. You get the picture.
  2. New Catholic: Some newbies like to post on Facebok what they are giving up for Lent. This flabbergasts me. Do they hope to be nominated as “Most Devoted Person Who Gave Up Sprite During Lent”? No shame involved whatsoever.

2)      Stations of the Cross. A series of prayers said in reverence to the Passion of the Christ. There are fourteen stations.

  1. Veteran: I feel like a ninety-eight year old war Vet who smokes Pal Malls every time someone mentions the Stations of the Cross: “Stations of the Cross? I can’t go back there. Back in the sixth grade, Billy Moyer passed out right in front of me. It was station eight. The incense got ‘em.”

In grade school we had to attend the Stations during Religion class. They were long, extremely sad, and always right before lunch.

  1. New Catholics: They take their small children to the Stations and eat a communal dinner beforehand. Apparently it is a glorious affair. They probably get a lot more out of the service since they have full bellies and are not being graded by Sister Rose.

3)      Penance. Lent is a time to slow down and repent for our sins.

  1. Veteran: While I enjoy the act now, as a child I was scared out of my gourd to go to Confession. We had those old school confessionals where the little face box slid open and the priest’s voice was muffled – like Oz. He always handed out four hundred Our Father’s for eating a piece of candy during Lent. Also, it was encouraged to look sad and hungry during this time. Maybe black out an eye if we had a chance.
  2. New Catholic: They attend group penance services where other people can actually hear their sins. That’s guts people.
What the priest looks like after I'm done talking.

What the priest looks like after I’m done talking.

 

4)      Suffering. We reflect on Jesus’ suffering and dying for us, because of his love for us.

  1. Veteran: I fell like a major a**hole for forty days. I can’t even hand out spare change to the panhandler who hangs out under the I-35 bridge. The guy with one foot.
  2. New Catholic: So. Much. Volunteering. Then discussing the volunteering.

5)      Meatless Fridays and Fasting. During Lent, Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. Fasting and abstaining are encouraged throughout Lent.

  1. Veteran: As a kid, this meant frozen fish sticks from the school cafeteria and tuna noodle casserole for dinner. Every. Single. Friday. I began to rue Fridays. The only thing to look forward to was watching the Love Boat on Fridays. Unless I had given up television. Which I usually had.
  2. New Catholic: We have been attending the community Fish Fry. The food is delicious, there is cake, and beer. This changes everything.

So does new equal better in this situation? Not necessarily. I think we need each other.

I love my religion, but clearly I could use a little pep in my step from the NCs. They can re-teach me all the stuff I forgot about while taking a nap during Freshman year Theology. We oldies can confirm that nuns are not a myth like the Yeti; they are real and we were taught by them.

So this season, I am willing to keep an open mind, like the New Catholics. Maybe I can remove the shame, help out more, and be more communal.

Right after I flog myself for eating this Kit Kat bar.

Heaven Help Us Poster[1]

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Am I Really Dressed as a Whoopee Cushion Within a Whoopee Cushion?

Because when guys think of hot chicks, they usually think about corn.

Because when guys think of hot chicks, they usually think about corn.

I love Halloween. I am one of those people who drags out the giant spider and pumpkin everything on October 1st. I am usually sweating doing so, since it is still 95 degrees here in Texas.

During my stupor of encasing every surface with cotton cobwebs and foam tombstones, I forget others may not share my zeal for this special day. It pains me to know the awesomeness they are missing. The orange and black Oreos, the watching of Hocus Pocus over and over again, and the dressing up – are you kidding me? Society has given us a day where one can dress in the scariest/bloodiest/sluttiest/creepiest/cross-dressing/insulting outfit you can find and guess what? You will not offend anyone because it is all part of the fun. Take this gift and run people!

Aside from the fun, Halloween is also a judgment day. This is the only day of the year a child will find an adult guilty of crap candy giving. Are you the cool neighbor who hands out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or are you the bag of pennies guy? Are you the house that has a smoke machine and sound effects with a talking skeleton, or is your porch light out at 6 p.m.?

The best neighbor is the one who hands out WHOLE candy bars, but those are a rare find. Like the Yeti or a four leaf clover.

I like to call the All Hallows Eve non-participants Grinches. Or more aptly – weenies.

There are many BS excuses…er…reasons, I’m sure for not participating in this spooky day. Maybe a person cannot decorate the house due their hip surgery. Or maybe they have just moved in, that day. Or perhaps the person is from another country, having just arrived to the US, and pumpkins remind him/her of their motherland’s great gourd famine of 1683.

But just not participating? On purpose? I don’t get it.

My sweet mother has bequeathed her holiday fanaticism to me. She decorates for every occasion. She probably has every type of bunny – wood, ceramic, fiberglass – for Easter. Halloween and Christmas, there is animatronic singing character in every room. Arbor Day? She’s probably got that covered too. She takes pride in her decorating skills.

The other day my mother commented that my sister, who is very classic in her decorating, has a bunch of fall decorations in her home. She said this with a gleam in her eye as if to say, “My work here is done people. Rochelle Out! **drops mic**”

I say Amen people! We need to jazz up our everyday existence. And if you can’t do it with fuzzy pumpkins singing the monster mash, what can you do it with?

So this Halloween, don’t be a weenie. Go get a bag of Jolly Rancher lollipops, put on a witch hat, and flip that porch light on. The neighborhood kids will thank you.

Unless you are wearing that sexy Ernie or Bert costume, then you’ll just make everyone uncomfortable.

Just don't do it people.

Just don’t do it people.