If you are one of the millions of people all over the world who celebrate Easter, you are familiar with Lent, the time of year when people choose things to give up for 40 days.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is Feb. 14 this year. Many people choose to fast or give up certain foods like chocolate or alcohol, or give up activities to demonstrate self-restraint. Others commit to improve their health.
For children, the idea of Lent and giving up foods or habits can seem overwhelming or too difficult to actually maintain for 40 days.
So this year, instead of giving something up, commit as a family to take actions instead. Here are some ideas to get your family started on celebrating Lent in a new way:
40 days of letter writing
Make a list of 40 people in your life who make a difference and mean something to you. Whether it’s teachers, the grocery store cashier or the crossing guard, there are so many people you encounter in your daily lives who would appreciate a letter or note of appreciation.
Commit to spend 2-3 weekends during Lent volunteering your time. Serve or cook a meal at your local soup kitchen or pantry. Visit with the elderly in your community. Sort food at a local food pantry. Walk dogs or pet cats at animal shelters.
40 good deeds
Although we should be doing it every day, good deeds make others’ days better. Even the simplest acts can make a positive impact on others. Hold the door open for someone. Pay for the person in line behind you. Feed expiring parking meters with spare change. Pick up trash from public spaces. Give a compliment.
Stop and don’t spend
Think about what you spend your money on each month, whether it’s new clothes or eating meals at restaurants. Pick one area to “fast’ from during Lent and instead donate that money you would have normally spent to a local charity.
Love thy neighbor
Get to know your neighbors. Introduce yourself, plan a dinner, or bring a treat to an older person on your block. Or if there is a new student at school, reach out and schedule a playdate.
Sort and donate
Make the time to sort through your outgrown clothes and items to donate them to those in need. Select toys that are in good condition but not getting used to give to other children.
Ditch the negative
Make a commitment to not making insensitive or negative comments about others. No gossip, judgement or negative commentary. Stay positive for 40 days!