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The Season of Lent

Take A Mulligan

March 10, 2019
By John Sheda , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Lent commenced last Wednesday and it seems most denominations celebrate the season of Lent. Perhaps, "celebrate" is not quite the word one should or would use to describe it, particularly for kids growing up in the 50's and 60's. Those few days (perhaps weeks) leading up to Ash Wednesday, which "kicked off" Lent, were days dreaded by most of us Chelsea kids back then.. Lent ended on Easter Sunday, which seemed an absolute eternity, when it was "parentally" required to give up something as a way of penance............I guess!!

There were no official rules but unofficially it seemed it was mostly for kids. I can remember many times Mom or Dad wanting to know what I've decided to give up for Lent. Hah! Like I had a choice. But I can't exactly ever remembering asking Mom or Dad WHAT they were giving up for Lent. I'm pretty sure that question never erupted from my lips. How do I know this? Simple, I'm still alive, ain't I? Nope, Lent was mostly for kids.

Another unofficial rule was that although each kid was given the "free-will" choice as to what one would give up for over forty long, long days, we all knew there was NO "free-will" choice. One year, I told Mom I decided to give up watermelon. That evening Dad and I had "the talk." Watermelon, even though I loved it, was not what I would be giving up. Corn-on-the-cob was out too as was delicious things like apples, oranges, bananas and even chewing gum. Every choice, (remember that free will thing), I made ended up in the evening with "the talk."

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Jhon Sheda

Now there was another unofficial rule-kind of. You see, Lent consisted officially of 40 days of agony and suffering, I mean voluntary penance, but if you counted the days there were a few more than 40 from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. There was some kind of hidden clause that said Sundays were a "free day." Free days meant that you could partake of the item you had given up on the other days of Lent.

EXCEPT! Except??? Except what? Well, that unofficial rule was usually superceded by another unofficial rule. Has anyone noticed how difficult it was growing up in the late 1950's? Agony, pure agony!! Anyway, we the students of St. Joseph's Catholic School, were reminded that when Jesus suffered for us, He never got any "free days." Hmm.......and if he never got free days, should we take any free days. I never argued with the Sisters at school, which would not be approved by higher authorities at all, but at home I tried to explain to Mom that Sundays were not officially a part of Lent. She listened and I think actually understood what I was saying. However when it was all said and done, I got "the talk" with Dad that evening once again.

So here's the deal! When Ash Wednesday finally got here, the bribing, praying, begging and bargaining was all done, every boy and girl in Chelsea from about 8 years old to around 12 years old gave up the same thing--C A N D Y ! Yup, the 5 by 3 foot candy stand at Sheda's Grocery Store was off limits to kids from Ash Wednesday to Easter. That little section of the store was a very lonely place.

Years later, when I became an adult, I asked Dad what he gave up for lent. He smiled and replied, "Watermelon." So what did you give up for Lent? Let me know at or call me at 319.327.4640.

What am I giving up this year????? Liver & Onions of course!! Have a great week!



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