Fiddlesticks and Foul Words: Giving it Up for Lent

Image of money next to a tipped over swearing jar. Sign says "You say it you pay it"


Heritage Living Center


(SENIOR WIRE) Lent 2021 begins on Wednesday, February 17. And by the time Easter gets here, my church is going to receive a rather large donation of cash!

I am a southern Methodist girl who wasn’t raised believing it was a law that I must fast or make a sacrifice for Lent. However, years ago, I thought the Lenten season was a great way to show my appreciation to the Lord.

I gave up dark chocolate one year, and it nearly killed me! By the time Easter Sunday arrived, most of the chocolate bunnies in the south had been consumed by the out-of-control mother who was stealing them out of the kids’ Easter baskets.

My daughter, who moved to Seattle to be close to Starbucks, decided to give up her beloved java for Lent. After 40 days of headaches, grumpiness, and falling asleep during business meetings, she decided never to give up the dark, soothing magic of coffee again.

I have foregone sugar, fried foods, and a host of other goodies for Lent in my lifetime of loving the Lord, but none has been as difficult as this one. Nope, none, not even dark chocolate.

I live with an Italian, New Orleans husband who would never, and I do mean ever, give up food for Lent or anybody. He just couldn’t physically handle such a feat, so I didn’t suggest it at all. If I told him he would need to sacrifice his beloved pizza for nearly six weeks, he would have driven his Italian car to the hills never to be heard from again. Even God knew it was asking way too much.

Finally, I came up with an ingenious plan. Since both of us have a terrible habit of saying some non-printable words often out of frustration with our computers, politicians, bad drivers, or cell phones, we would vow not to use them for 40 days and beyond. If we should slip and say one of those #[email protected]!! words, we would throw money in the jar sitting on our kitchen counter.

On Easter Sunday, we would then give it as an offering to the church. Surely this would be pleasing to God and hopefully not as difficult as giving up dark Easter bunnies and not as death-defying for David as giving up pizza.

Well, unfortunately, we now have no money to buy a chocolate Easter bunny or a pizza! The jar was soon replaced with a bucket, and one can also hear the faint sound of the Lord’s laughter with each rustling of the dollar as it is stuffed into His bucket.

When I think of the few funny tales surrounding those non-printable, blankety  blank blank words, I laugh! The story of my 3-year-old brother whose beloved grandfather had just finished building him a sandbox, is priceless.

Granddaddy was a tall, handsome, and Godly man who taught Sunday school and was a Baptist deacon. His daughter, my mother, never said a foul word in her life. Her go-to phrase was “fiddlesticks” when she would get frustrated.

I never understood what violin bows had to do with anything, but it seemed to suppress her frustration and keep her daddy from putting the dreaded soap in her mouth.

Granddaddy was watching John as he tried to fill a pail of sand and dump it just right. When my brother couldn’t make the sand form what he envisioned, he softly said, “Well, da–!”

“What did you say, John?” his grandfather asked in disbelief.

The 3-year-old replied a tiny bit louder, “Da–!”

The Deacon rested his hands on his hips and repeated, “John, what are you saying?” My sweet brother then yelled loudly, “Granddaddy, can’t you hear?! I said, WELL DA–!”

“Where did you hear such a word, son?” He asked as his anger rose.

“From my daddy!” the 3-year-old honestly and proudly shouted.

And, just like that, the last time John saw his new sandbox for many days was as his granddaddy was hauling him into the house to wash his mouth out with the Ivory bar.

And, just like that, the Deacon became a bona fide preacher when he delivered my daddy a fire-and-brimstone sermon my father recalled for the next 50 years.

By the time these 40 days have passed, hopefully, our foul words will be forever gone, and Granddaddy can rest in peace as I learn to fiddle my sticks and no longer steal chocolate bunnies. The whole idea of Lent is to give up, give in, and grow for the love of the Lord. He endured 40 days in a barren wilderness tempted by Satan and survived only to return to give His life for us.

Giving up chocolate bunnies, pizza, coffee, expletives, and a bucket full of money is the least we can do for Him. MSN

Lynn Walker Gendusa is an author and weekly columnist for several newspapers and a contributor to the USA Today network. She can be reached through

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