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John Lamb, Published April 03 2010

Lamb: Lenten lessons

Songs will remind you that Christmas is, in no uncertain terms, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but I’m warming up to Easter.

Sure, I love the Christmas season, but by this time of year I’m plenty happy to see the snow – and anything that reminds me of snow – gone.

Mostly, though, I’m just relieved Lent is over.

As someone who was raised Catholic, but not an ideal Catholic by anyone’s definition, I still observe Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. The period symbolizes the duration Jesus Christ spent in the desert, enduring Satan’s temptation, only to eventually be crucified on a cross.

If someone were to do that now, their Twitter post would likely read, “Still in the desert with Satan. Worst month EVER! Mankind better appreciate this.”

Today Catholics and some other Christian faiths take on some individual self-sacrifice or other acts of penance every year in observance of Christ’s trials. Some give up candy or junk food. Others give up soda. Some give up caffeine, and I recommend you stay away from them, as they tend to be quite grumpy and vocal about it.

Me, I tried to give up meat and alcohol for 40 days. “Tried” being the operative word.

As much as I really enjoy meat and a good drink (or two, or three), I felt pretty confident I could do without both for 40 days – with some exceptions.

For example, as someone of Irish descent, I couldn’t really turn my back on my heritage on St. Patrick’s Day.

Also, you never want to be an ungrateful guest. This has led to some in my family to invoke a travel exemption. For example, if one were to go to a Willie Nelson show, like the brilliant one two weeks ago at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minn., well, it would’ve been downright inhospitable to not welcome him onstage with a raised beer as he cranks out “Whiskey River.” Likewise, I wouldn’t have been much of a guest had I not sampled a frybread taco in the casino’s restaurant after the show.

Of course, my small sacrifices pale in comparison to Christ’s. After his 40 days he endured further persecution only to allow himself to be crucified on a cross. After my 40 days, I’ll go to Buffalo Wild Wings to indulge my vices.

And the next morning, when all those mango habanero chicken wings are simmering in all the beer in my belly, I’ll start planning on what I’ll be giving up next Lent.

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533