Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. I grew up Catholic, so when you ask me about this season I begin thinking about fish on Fridays and no chocolate for forty days, though I don’t believe I’ve ever been foolish enough to
give up something that difficult 😉 . But these were not traditions my husband was familiar with, so for a while we didn’t include them in our Lenten practices. In fact, we really didn’t do anything. And it was only after a couple years without them that I started to appreciate their significance.
Now I am not a Catholic scholar, so this post is not about the history of Lenten traditions. It’s about why our family started practicing them again. Because I found without them, Lent slipped away from me. Forty days passes, unnoticed, and then all of a sudden it was Easter.
Sometimes, as a mom, I feel like my whole life is like this. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in chores and schedules and forget to stop and spend quality time being present with my family. And when I re-instituted some of the Lenten traditions from my childhood, I realized that’s what they did for me. They brought me back to the present.
You see, not eating meat on Fridays helps me stop, think, and reflect. It reminds me that I’m in a special time of the calendar year, set aside for meditating on the sacrifices Jesus made for us. It’s not that fish is somehow holier than beef or that eating dark chocolate is bad (thank goodness!), it’s that setting restrictions stop me from plowing forward on autopilot.
Whether or not you are Christian, you can take this lesson from Lent: Be present.
Do you need to follow these exact traditions? Of course not. But what I would challenge you to do this Lent is focus. Focus on being present. In this world where technology and business pull us in every direction, I’m grateful for a time of year that helps me slow down, and truly participate in life.
What a great time of year to start your own traditions, like spending at least one meal a day-technology free- around the dinner table. Or doing a service project as a family.
Get rid of the background TV noise, get off of the internet (after you finish this post, of course!), and be 100% present with your family.
And if you want to eat fish on Friday and give something up, I say go for it!
Here’s my Grandma’s Tuna Melt Recipe! Super easy and delicious.
3 cans tuna, drained
¼ cup Mayo
½ an onion, chopped
½ tsp dill weed
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
6-10 hot-dog buns
Mix all ingredients, except buns, together. Once mixed, fill hot-dog buns with tuna mix and wrap completely with tinfoil. Set oven to 375 and cook directly on rack until cheese is melted and filling is hot, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!