(CBS 8) - When I was a young lad in parochial school, my teacher Attila the Nun made everyone in our class pledge to give up something for Lent.
We were obligated (or risk spending time in purgatory, which we were told was a lot like Yuma) to abstain from one of our guilty pleasures for 40 days and 40 nights and it had to be a real sacrifice. Not like 'I won't eat Brussels sprouts or tofu.'
No, most good Catholic boys and girls gave up eating candy or drinking sodas, and we did it cold turkey, no hypnosis, no patch, no electroshock therapy. It meant that by the day after Ash Wednesday, every kid in my school was experiencing total sugar withdrawals, cold sweats, body shakes, hallucinations of being attacked by a giant Pez dispenser.
One kid actually started to caramelize. They found him stuck to his locker and the janitor had to scrape him off. Another kid even climbed up on the roof of the school and threatened to jump, until his mother talked him down with a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
A week later, a local dentist climbed up on the school roof and threatened to jump unless the kids were allowed to eat candy again.
Still, Lent taught us all something about sacrifice, about doing without. We were footloose and fructose-free. Perfection without confection. And if we could somehow remain sugarless for the entire 40 days, there was a big payoff. Hallelujah!
On Easter Sunday, we'd get a basket full of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans and those God-awful baby chicks that weren't even really candy, just sugar- and syrup-covered wads of steel wool.
We'd be happy, and our parents were happy again and the dentists were happy and the nuns were happy. And the moral of the story, as we used to say in grade school: Candy is dandy, but Lent lasts forever.