Now that we are almost one week into Lent, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon occurring at our house: the Lenten sacrifices are multiplying like loaves and fishes.
Olivia, my 7-year-old, gave up all sweets for Lent. Noah, my 11-year-old, gave up TV, video games and all screen time three days a week. But what has happened over the course of the past few days is that both children have pretty much assimilated each other’s sacrifices. It’s been kind of cool to watch.
Sure, Noah had a cookie or two at the Boy Scout meeting over the weekend, and, yes, Olivia has watched a 30-minute show once with her baby sister. But overall, without their even realizing it, they have happily and easily taken on each other’s sacrifices.
Noah, who loves sweets, is now eating rice cakes or Goldfish crackers after school. Olivia, who loves a daily TV show or a turn at Webkinz online, has taken to playing Charades and even attempting Scrabble with her big brother instead.
It’s heartening, especially after all the hemming and hawing they did over what to give up. I figured if they managed to get through even one week of their individual sacrifices, we’d be smelling like roses here.
I don’t know why this whole thing surprises me. I spent plenty of time before Lent explaining to my kids that sacrifices aren’t supposed to be about feeling bad but about opening up a space in our hearts where God can squeeze in and begin to change our lives and make us feel good. Well, here is that concept come to roost in very concrete ways.
And I can see the kids’ example working its magic on me as well. Last night, when Noah was begging me to play Scrabble, I originally had told him I was just too worn out to come up with words using mostly “i”s and “o”s. Well, about an hour into the “short play” version of the game, I realized that this pleasant evening of mother-son bonding was coming to us courtesy of Noah’s Lenten sacrifice. No, he wouldn’t have been watching TV at that time anyway, but somehow his three-days-a-week sacrifice was oozing good karma into the rest of our days as well.
Unfortunately, I do not have that same uplifting attitude toward Chiara’s current fascination with Candy Land, which I play about two dozen times a day. I’ll know I’ve made real spiritual progress when I stop pulling the gumdrop and gingerbread cards out of the deck midway through the game to ensure a quick and merciful end.