Colette Sheridan: Lent? haven't we sacrificed enough already in these grim times...

Haven’t we already been forced to give up nearly everything that makes life worth living? So why give up something for Lent, writes Colette Sheridan
Colette Sheridan: Lent? haven't we sacrificed enough already in these grim times...

In our technological world, you may have a serious online shopping habit. There’s something to give up for Lent, says Colette

SO much for Lent, that time of sacrifice when we deprive ourselves of a guilty pleasure or two for 40 days.

Haven’t we already been forced to give up nearly everything that makes life worth living?

Like regular face-to-face contact with friends (face-time doesn’t count), going to the cinema and scoffing ice-cream while watching a movie, meeting someone for lunch (the sheer joy of which we used to take for granted) or just dropping into a favourite cafe for a coffee.

And of course, going for a pint if you’re a drinker. What is left? Chocolate — and not an awful lot else.

Because of gaining Covid-induced weight, I was all set to give up chocolate for Lent. it’s a time of year when even the non-religious among us can become quite zealous about cleaning up our act, relinquishing treats, particularly if you allow yourself a ‘treat’ every day.

(Whatever happened to the once-a-week treat of our childhood when we weren’t as self-indulgent as we are now? Back then, you appreciated a packet of sweets after Mass on Sunday (more suffering) instead of expecting a sugar fix every day of the week.

In my local shop on Ash Wednesday, I wrestled with myself as I surveyed bargain packs of Kit-Kats (my sugar fix of choice). On the basis of life being pretty grim, I capitulated and bought some.

Will power? It takes enough will power to just keep going.

Don’t ask me to relinquish my favourite accompaniment to a cup of tea. On the scale of things, it’s hardly cataclysmic.

It’s not as if I’ve been sinking a bottle or two of wine every night. But I still have niggling guilt (call it a Catholic thing) when I give in to my weaknesses. And then there are crisps!

I read one of those newspaper lists of things to give up for Lent. On the subject of crisps, there was a warning. If you decide to give them up, “you may need to use the buddy system to keep you on the right track. Reach out and good luck.”

I didn’t know that there is a ‘buddy system’ for folk who want to quit crisps for a while. How does it work?

Is it a bit like an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who you ring when you’re feeling weak? Do you have to remind yourself of the implications of guzzling crisps and imagine a life without them?

It seems a bit extreme to have a support system lined up for living without crisps. But that’s the kind of world we live in.

We pathologise our baser instincts and are assured that there’s a support group for everything from eating too much to over-use of social media.

I made up the social media bit, but i imagine it’s only a matter of time before that activity will be classified as a serious addiction in need of help.

As it happens, social media has been our saviour during lockdowns. We’re highly dependent on technology to stay in touch, to entertain ourselves and to just stave off boredom.

But maybe, instead of just mindlessly scrolling, we should actually call a friend or a family member for a chat?

But, according to some sticklers for politeness, it seems making a call without an appointment to do so (via a text) is bad manners.

There was a discussion on the radio last week about the death of small talk. One of the contributors said that it’s not really acceptable to ring someone out of the blue. They’ll just think that something is wrong. It’s like the equivalent of calling to someone’s door unannounced.

What have we come to? Whatever happened to being able to keep your back door unlocked and welcoming to visitors?

If you’re a true victim of our technological world, you probably have a serious online shopping habit. Now there’s something you could give up for Lent.

Hold off on clicking and paying during Lent and, with some of the money you’ll save, go shopping (in actual shops) when this interminable lockdown ends. Not only will you be supporting high street retail but you’ll be able to see properly what you’re buying.

Because buying clothes in the right size online can be a tricky business. And besides, going into shops is more enjoyable than shopping from your phone. Or am I showing my age?

Having quit booze and fags, I don’t have that much to give up. But one thing I’m trying to do this Lent is stop complaining. Lockdown is highly conducive to complaining. We have, after all, lost much of our liberty.

But everyone is in the same boat and some are unfortunate enough to be laid low by Covid-19. Now that’s something to give out about. But for now, I’m relatively lucky.

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