Fat Tuesday Facts

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Tuesday is the big day, people. We can eat, drink, and be merry, because looming ahead is the Forty Days Of Lent! I have everything in place for our own big Mardi Gras blowout. At the store today, I bought two (yes, I said TWO!) bags of flavored popcorn and a bag of peanut M&M’s! After a normal, at-home supper, we will work on our winter jigsaw puzzle, watch the winter Olympics on Network television, and snack on the acquired goodies. WOO-HOO, this is gonna be some crazy party here tomorrow night!

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The historical intent of Mardi Gras is religiously/liturgical calendar based. Mardi Gras is French for “fat Tuesday,” and this was the day that the French Christians would finish up all of their butter and rich cuts of meat, so as to be better disposed to hearing the word of God during Lent. (Making little sacrifices does, indeed, lend oneself to being a better listener, for that I can testify!) This Wed, we will enter into the penitential season of Lent, when we give up certain earthly pleasures to allow our hearts to be more open to the joy of knowing and loving God. Some people choose to give up meat, or chocolates, or all sweets, or snack foods. Others might choose to refrain from complaining or criticizing, which is a different form of “fasting” that could be very beneficial for themselves and those whom they love. This is, at least, the history of Mardi Gras. It was a day, sometimes several days (or weeks, even), when Christians would celebrate and eat heartily prior to Ash Wed. Sometimes there were masked balls and public celebrations, particularly in France. In the UK and Ireland, the day before Lent is referred to as Shrove Tuesday instead, which points more strongly to the true nature of the observance and the coming Lenten season. Shrovetide (which is actually the whole week leading up to Lent), comes from the word “shrive, which means to confess, or to be pardoned. In other words, folks in England & Ireland are promoting a visit to the confessional during that week prior to Ash Wednesday, to prepare oneself appropriately for the coming liturgical season. And, then, for some unknown reason, they all go home and eat pancakes. Don’t ask me why.

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With our country’s fair state of Louisiana being historically settled by a strong French influx and influence, it was natural that the more extensive Mardi Gras observances would flourish there. Everyone has heard of the contemporary Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and thousands travel there to join in the excitement. Over the years, however, they have thrown out the Christian concept of the season, and have adopted the observances of the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. This was a feast (around the same time of year) to honor the pagan god of fertility. In addition to feasting, there was lots of booze and “carnal behavior.” Sounds pretty much exactly like what goes on in New Orleans these days. You could not pay me to go there! In my house, we will stick to the liturgical sense of the season, which doesn’t lead to possible weight gain, hellacious hangovers, and serious deathbed regrets.

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So, if you haven’t already, get to the store, get to confession, and get ready for Ash Wednesday. It will be here soon, and by then, all of the pancakes will be long gone. You don’t want to miss out on those pancakes, and you don’t want to miss out on a holy Lent, either. Lent is one of the best “gifts” of the liturgical year, so don let it slip by unnoticed. So, when the Mardi Gras celebrations are but a memory, head to church this Wednesday for (what I call) “Must Ash” day (Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches can be counted on for observing this practice). You’ll feel the gritty ash against your skin as the shape of a cross is imprinted upon your forehead. Wear it proudly throughout the day….you’ll be glad you did!

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Frozen in the Northern Realm

I headed north to meet my new grandchild. When I walked out of the airport, looking for my s-i-l’s car, a winter wind hit me like a cold smack in the face. I almost turned around and walked back into the airport, to hop on a Sun Country flight. Sun Country Airlines is headquartered in Minneapolis, and based on the premise that people will obviously want to get the heck out of here and head south…..often. Sounds like an excellent business plan to me. You should look at a map of their routes. They do all head south (except for a few dumb exceptions not worth mentioning) to places like California, the Gulf Coast, Central/South America, and the Caribbean. After getting hit with that icy blast, I was all-in with that idea, but my daughter was waiting for me, and looking forward to my help with the granddaughters (the 2 already here, and the one we are still awaiting). I could have quite easily marched right back in and booked a flight to Aruba. I have since discovered though, that Sun Country Airlines is struggling financially. Apparently, these crazy Minnesotans are pleased as punch with their piercingly cold temperatures and their piled-high precipitation, and are not in any hurry to leave. By the time they get a little sick of the winter weather, it warms up for a few months so that Minnesotans can enjoy their lakes, work on a mild sunburn, get covered with mosquito bites, and dodge road work cones EVERYWHERE they go. By the time that’s over, they are actually looking forward to winter. And all this time, Sun Country Airlines is slowly wasting away. At any rate, sun country was not an option for me. I was stuck here, for at least two weeks. So, I pulled on my hood and my mittens, and plowed into the wind, not unlike Yukon Cornelius.

And, here I sit, four days later, be-decked with long-johns, warm robe, and fuzzy slippers, sipping on some hot tea, sucking on throat lozenges, and STILL waiting for granddaughter number three to join us. Is it any wonder she’s not here yet? She’s probably peeped out once or twice and felt that same icy blast that I experienced, and said, “Never mind!” Someone should check the airport, specifically the Sun Country counter, because I think that’s where she might be right now. If you happen to be at the MSP airport right now and you see a newborn there, in line at their counter, let me know. Mimi is going to join her!

So, anyway, this is just a short update to keep you all informed and connected, and if you are reading this, it means that the WordPress site FINALLY cooperated with me while I’m using my iPad! 👍🏼 (I’m not even gonna try adding photos. You’ll have to tune back in when I’m back home to see those!)

The Art of Being Useless

My latest hobby is the practice of accomplishing next to nothing. I didn’t plan it out this way. Just over a month ago, I was still a contributing member of society, but now, I am a game-playing, movie-watching, book-reading cat … Continue reading