Kindness – Cartoon Illustrator
Lent – 6 weeks of penance, giving up sweets, cigarettes or beverages that are bad for us. It’s a time to clean up our act. Like New Year’s, an opportunity to make a new start and redeem our sorry selves.
But first, there’s that last gluttonous fling of Shrove or Pancake Tuesday. Why do pancakes get such bad press? Surely a mix of flour, milk and eggs is a healthy and wholesome foodstuff? Granted, when doused with syrup and chocolate sauce, this simple fare is transformed into a dish of glorious indulgence.
As for their cooking, I don’t even try. After years of my burnt offerings and scorching our frying pans, Daddy-O is now directed to “Come home early – You’re on pancake duty.” Not only can he cook, he can flip the darn things too!
We stuff our faces. With simple ingredients and squirt of lemon juice, they are surely nutritious. I no longer see the point of reserving this for Shrove Tuesday. Wouldn’t it be better to make our own instead of buying carb-loaded take out? I could let the kids do it – a good ruse for them to take up cooking.
Then we have Ash Wednesday, another of our Christian traditions, but marked by black Ash. At mass the congregation queue up as the priest thumbs this blackened mess on the foreheads of each individual, chanting “Remember, you are but dust and to dust you shall return.” It’s morbid but a sobering reminder of life’s brevity. I sit there beside Mam, mindful of past times we went with Dad, who’s long deceased, missing him.
“What are you giving up?” is a question often put to children. “Chocolate,” is often the ready reply, but maybe plainer provisions like jellies and crisps are allowed, to soften the 40 days of self-denial? Or in these gadget-driven times it could be “Minecraft, but not PlayStation!”
Instead of giving up, how about taking up things like a random act of kindness? This costs nothing but a little thought and momentary effort. In fact it’s basically good manners such as holding open doors, drivers allowing you into a lane, or that man I sometimes encounter on the route to school. He’ll wave me on at a narrow bend to signal the roadway is safe with no oncoming traffic. Or the time I left my handbag behind in a cafe, I felt that sinking horror – “Oh no! Cash and credit cards gone!” I raced back, ashen faced and thank God, the lady behind the counter had stored it there safely.
The honesty, kindness and care that denote such selfless, thoughtful acts are things we can do every day, without the showy sacrifice of giving things up. And my first act of kindness is not cooking pancakes!
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Maeve O’Keeffe, the Frazzled Mammy! ©Maeve O’Keeffe 2015
Maeve O’Keeffe is a Cartoonist, Illustrator and Journalist in Cork, Ireland