Happy Fat Tuesday -- chow down on that King Cake, because tomorrow begins Lent.
For 40 days, you're expected to sacrifice something, because the Lord Our God apparently cares whether you've snuck that Snickers bar you promised to give up.
In case you're still deciding what to avoid in your attempt at sainthood, here's a sliding scale of sacrifice, from broccoli to Pope Benedict XVI's get-outta-here decision to give up the papacy.
Broccoli: A childhood favorite....when it comes to giving up things for Lent. Usually cock-blocked by Moms who ask, "What are you giving up for Lent -- and don't say 'broccoli'!"
Ice Cream (Strawberry): This works especially well in families where the gallon of neapolitan ice cream (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) gets eaten like this: Chocolate gone the first night, vanilla the second, the strawberry section still sitting untouched in the freezer a month later.
You can get points for giving up ice cream, but limiting it to strawberry takes a true Lenten expert.
A TV Show That Has Jumped The Shark: If you play this one right, you can set yourself up for an enjoyable Lent, but it takes a little planning.
Find a show you used to like that has since worn out its welcome. Actually, you don't even have to had liked it or seen it at all. A month before Lent, start to loudly and obnoxiously inquire whether the show has been Tivo'd. Ask everyone in the house "Did anyone mess with my Amazing Race (Or Friends reruns, or a Nate Berkus redecorating show)? Well, you better not."
Then, come February, grandly announce -- with just the right amount of sadness in your voice -- that your Lent, in honor of the King of Kings, will be Berkus-free.
Football: If you happen to be in a relationship with someone who hates sports, use it to your advantage. He or she has no doubt complained about you spending your weekends glued to the TV. Announce that from February to March 30, you will absolutely give up football.
Luckily for you, Lent finishes just as the build-up to the NFL Draft begins. A win-win!!
At this point in the sliding scale, unfortunately, the sacrifices begin to hurt. Give up steak and beer? There should indeed be a place in heaven for you.
Take the kids to the movies? A sainthood.
No matter what you choose, however, you already have been played. Benedict stole everyone's thunder with the announcement that he's giving up the papacy -- a cushy job if ever there was one -- for Lent, and possibly beyond (We haven't talked to him yet about the details.)
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You can try giving up the papacy yourself, now that there's an opening, but that might be tough.
So it might be time to truly buckle down. For the next 40 days, absolutely no viewings of The Godfather. And if you really want to get inHis good graces, include Godfather II.
It's tough, but if St. Peter could do it, so can you.