Simone and I celebrated Mardi Gras with her dad by waiting waaaay too long for some crawfish at an overcrowded, loud restaurant with drunk people everywhere. Yiiiiiiieeeee!
On the way to the restaurant, I explained in very simple terms what Fat Tuesday is and why the restaurant was going to be so crowded and loud. I told her that some religions observe Lent for 40 days before Easter, and people in those religions will sometimes give up something they love, like watching TV, drinking sodas, beer, wine, or eating candy or desserts, as sort of a demonstration of their love for Jesus, who fasted for 40 days. I told her that the 40 days begins tomorrow, so everyone is having all the indulgences they can stand tonight since they will not have them again until Easter.
My intent was to give her enough information so she could understand that it is not just a huge party, but that there is a deeper meaning behind it all. Then she wanted to know what we were going to give up. Hmmmmm...I told her that we don’t really observe Lent, but if she wanted to give something up we could. I reminded her that whatever it was, we would not be able to do it, eat it or drink it until Easter. It would be like a test of our willpower. She was OK with that.
We kicked around a few ideas. I think she suggested giving up practicing spelling words or math facts, and I vetoed that. I suggested giving up cookies. She vetoed that. We finally settled on giving up sodas. I can live with this. I needed to cut down my Diet Coke consumption anyway, and although she generally drinks water with meals anyway, she loves Dr. Pepper and will not turn one down.
So since February 21 (we actually started on Fat Tuesday rather than Ash Wednesday), we have had no sodas…
Except the time I forgot and ordered a cherry limeade with my burger.
And except for the time Simone forgot and had a grape soda with her dad.
Aside from these two little transgressions, we’ve done well. We are drinking water like it’s…water. And if we need something a little harder, we have sweet tea.
This weekend, while returning from a fun-filled day in East Texas, we stopped at McDonald’s for “dinner” (ya gotta use that term loosely when talking about McD’s!). We were given cups and while waiting for our “food” (again, loose terms) to be bagged up, we went over to the drink fountain to choose our drinks. I knew there would not be many choices there for our Lenten needs, and found the water spigot first thing.
I noticed Simone perusing the various drink buttons while I was filling my cup, and asked her if she wanted some milk to go with her happy “meal”. She said no, and pointed at an orange button on the drink machine. She asked me whether that was soda. I asked her what she thought (because we call it “orange soda”), and she said she didn’t think it was. This surprised me (because we call it “orange soda”), and I told her that I was having water because I’m not drinking sodas for 40 days, but that she would need to make up her own mind whether this is something she should drink, given our decision to give up sodas until Easter. See, I tried to throw in a little guilt trip there, but it went right over her head.
She restated her belief that it was not soda, and poured a little into her cup. “I’m just going to check to see whether it’s soda or not,” she said. She took a sip and declared “Nope. Not soda.” Then she wasted no time filling her cup with orange sweetness.
I was puzzled and a little worried about her cavalier attitude toward our Lenten self-denial, since it had been going so well for the past month. I asked her how she decided it was not soda (because we call it “orange soda”), and she explained; “this drink doesn’t have bubbles like soda, so it’s not soda, and it’s OK to drink during Lent.”
So…if it fizzes, it’s soda. If it’s Hi-C orange-flavored beverage, it’s not soda (even though it has just as much sugar). Good to know.