Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Giving Up For Lent?

I decided I would 'give something up for Lent' this year. I don't normally do this, I always think it seems a negative thing to 'give up' something. I would rather 'do something' positive, make an extra effort with something, or give up something (like the computer) in order to give me more time for something more worthwhile. But there lies the rub.

I am actually giving up chocolate. The reason I realise I am giving up chocolate is because I know I can do this relatively easily, whereas the computer, oh dear no, it's my lifeline to the outside world, where I have my blogging catharsis, my ebay fix, my email flutter.

But in my heart of hearts I know I spend too much time here at the computer & worry I'm too dependent on it.

The other thing I should maybe give up is coffee. Before I moved abroad I was never very into coffee, (well going out for one was always nice, but at home I didn't bother) but now I have one every morning, and it's become something of a ritual if I'm at home. And let's face it I often am. I make a proper coffee (of course), though here it's thought that because you're Western you love Nescafe instant because it's 'modern' & 'conveneint' &, well, Western). In fact in cafes here you have to ask for a cappucino 'with coffee' in order that you don't get one of those instant packet cappucino mixes . An Albanian would be given a 'real' cappucino by default, though actually no self respecting Albanian would drink anything other than an espresso or a Turkish coffee anyway...

I digress. My coffee ritual. I brew the coffee (4mins) I heat the milk, I froth it, and I put it in my favourite Emma Bridgewater spotty mug. I'm beginning to worry I sound like the old codger in the staff room who has leather patches on his sleeves & has to always sit in the same chair & drink out of the same mug, or woe betide any one who sabotages that routine.

I've come to the conclusion that I do this because it's a little treat. Sounds pathetic I know but I have found that living in the sort of countries we seem to end up in, where life is frequently frustrating & stressful, where so much is poor quality, plain inadequate or unavailable, it's the little things that begin to count for a lot. And they just cheer you up. I look forward to my coffee.

But then of course I am completley & utterly addicted to tea. I can't do without tea. At certain times of the day it is simply the only drink that cuts the mustard. Nothing else will do.

I'm afraid tea is a completely no go area. It's simply a necessity of life. So forget that.

I'm not doing very well, am I? I guess in a slightly puritannical way I always think that I should be giving up something that I am slightly addicted to, just to show that I'm prepared to make the sacrifice & I control it, it doesn't control me. Reflecting on the past year to try & bolster my feeling somewhat pathetic about my chocolate fast, I remembered that I had involuntarily given up the internet for 8 mths until we got on line here, I gave up sleeping on a pillow, & indeed most creature comforts till our shipment arrived 5 months into our arrival in Albania, I gave up driving for 9 mths because we had no car. I could go on.

And in the other sense of the word, most of the time here I try hard not to 'give up'; to keep going, think positive, look on the bright side & for the good things, (& they are there) and not give in to loneliness, homesickness or inertia or sheer screaming blue fits of frustration at times too.

So I'm sticking to chocolate. I feel it's all I can manage this year.

My daughter, ever the pragmatist, sees it in a slightly different light. Not to be outdone, and always so desperate to be like her older brother, (who has decided to give up his Tamagotchi , rather unfortunate for said Tamagotchi as I think this means it will die. Also probably the reason I said 'what a good idea.'), my 4 y-o announced:

"I know what I'm giving up."

Oh, yes, what's that then?"

"I'm giving up being the ball-person."

"The ball-person? What do you mean?

"I'm giving up being the ball-person, who fetches the ball when we play ping pong."

Ok, And why do you think that's a good thing to give up?"

"Because it makes my arms tired".

Not sure I've quite communicated the spirit of Lent to her, but then again, with me as a role model what hope has she??


Expat mum said...

My daughter has given up "sweet things" which is seemingly subject to interpretation (hers). Not even sure why she's doing this as I am a truly lapsed Catholic and didn't even know she was aware of Lent.
I keep telling her that she can "do something" instead of giving something up, but no- she feels better if she whines and lets us all know of the hardship she's enduring!!!

Parisgirl said...

No, I think your daughter has it dead right. Following her lead I am giving up doing the washing up, the cooking, the laundry indeed any kind of work for Lent. It all makes my arms hurt!

Iota said...

And why does she have sole responsibility for the role of ball person in the first place?

Wife in Hong Kong said...

I once observed an acquaintance turn down pudding at a dinner party because he'd given up sweet things for Lent. In fact he was a heavy drinker and I remember wondering why he didn't give up the booze as that would have been a true sacrifice. I wouldn't miss chocolate or coffee but I would shrivel up and die if I had to give up tea. So guess what, I'm not making any sacrifices at all this year: I've given up on giving up!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Expatmum. I agree doing something positive is a better option I think.
PG On that basis Albanian men are in a permanent 'Lenten' period. They do nothing, the women do it ALL, even ploughing the fields. The men gave up doing much of anything here years ago.....
Iota. Self-designated. She thought it wd be a cool job,& NO ONE else was allowed to do it, but she has no staying power....
WIHK. I agree, I'm not making a true sacrifice & that's what it should be I feel. I feel I make daily sacrifices just being here, and have made many along the route of getting to this life we now lead. Being abroad. But I know that's only self-justification & there's always room for more.

nappy valley girl said...

I could never give up tea either. It is my lifeline. I can't drink coffee first thing, I have to have two cups of tea just to wake myself up.

On the other hand coffee, especially with frothy milk, IS a little treat. When I'm working at home I sometimes go out to a cafe for 10 minutes just to have one, because it adds a little something to the day.

lunarossa said...

I've given up my beloved cappuccinos and caffelatte and I'm almost desperate. The cravings are so bad that I can taste and smell coffee everywhere I go. I should have given up carrotts or mushrooms...Ciao. Antonella

Potty Mummy said...

I know what I should do - give up what you have. Am I going to? What do you think...?

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