And the next thing I know, I've spent nearly two hours reading other peoples'. I know you're all chomping at the bit to hear what I have to say next, too.
So, Timbra brought up an interesting point, that I had intended to address but forgot. So, now I'm back to it. I am not Catholic. I do not attend a High church. So, my Lenten celebrations have been pretty much on my own for almost 20 years. Here's the rest of the backstory:
I started celebrating Lent when I was in middle school, because I had a lot of Catholic friends. It went something like this.
I: Want a Hershey bar?
Friend: No, thanks. It's Lent.
I: No, it's chocolate.
F: No, Lent. The time before Easter when you give up something.
F: I decided to give up chocolate this year.
F: (Gives the middle-school explanation of how we give stuff up to be more like Jesus, who was beaten half to death then crucified the rest of the way, only we don't go to those extremes, we just give up stuff we like. Like chocolate, for instance. (Sorry-- I'm not trying to be completely irreverent, but I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL.))
I: So, to get ready for Easter, you voluntarily suffer like Jesus? Just not as much?
I: Cool. I already paid for the Hershey bar, though, so I'll join you after I eat it.
And that's how I got started practising Lent.
In the intervening 18 years (oh, that is disgusting to type), I have run across a variety of reactions to my practise of Lent, including horror (parents), curiosity (some friends), excitement (Catholic friends), rudeness (some acquaintances) and indifference (everyone else). Chad, fortunately, falls into the "curiosity" category; we had been married something like six weeks when I said, "Oh, by the way, I celebrate Lent. It starts next week. I'll fix pancakes for us on Shrove Tuesday." He said, by way of maintaining family tradition, "Huh?"
For some reason, even though our office is packed full of Catholics, I seem to have been appointed the department guardian of all Lenten knowledge; that is, when someone in our department has a question about Lent, she asks me. And this year, they seem more interested than ever. We'll see how this turns out.