Today, Ash Wednesday, is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation leading up to Easter.
As such, over dinner last night, I asked each child what they plan to give up for the next 40 days. My youngest kicked off the discussion with one word.
Because of this tender age, I excused his naiveté and suggested that he do without something he really, really likes. I gently recommended chocolate milk, a staple in his diet.
Tender age notwithstanding, he sensed the hypocrisy in my suggestion, and countered with, “I will if you will.”
I relented, bested by an eight year old. “Broccoli it is.”
I moved on to one of my older boys. “Your turn. How about something electronic? How about Facebook?”
He winced. “Technically, Facebook isn’t something electronic, is it?”
Squirming, he reached into his pocket, pulled out his Ipod and placed it on the table before me, careful not to make eye contact. Before I could say another word, the rest of the boys interrupted with their offerings.
My husband looked across the length of the table at me and asked “And you?”
I admired his bravery.
Without hesitating, I smugly responded, “Coffee. Just like last year.”
He held his head in his hands and mumbled, “Please, no. Not again.”
I scoffed. “Well, what would you suggest?”
Again, perhaps because of the distance separating us from one end of the table to the other, he mustered the courage to suggest, “Chocolate.”
Forty days is a very long time.
But, remembering that sacrifice is an integral part of this pre-Easter season, I agreed, determined to set an example for my boys.
I suppose I can make a point of avoiding the store aisles that are stocked with the “c” word, but it won’t help. It will find me. I’m a chocolate magnet.
“I can still drink coffee?” I inquired, silently calculating the balance on my Starbuck’s card.
Five pairs of eyes stared at me as let out a sigh of relief big enough to fill a hot air balloon.
Technically, mocha isn’t chocolate, is it?