Fat Tuesday is here, and traditionally that means a day set aside for eating jelly-filled donuts, parties and fun!

I love this time of year, and in the past have been a part of eating contests to commemorate the beginning of the Lenten season. One year I even took home the trophy for wining the cheeseburger eating contest at K & L Lanes in Gowanda! I can't really eat like that anymore, but I do like to celebrate in some way on Fat Tuesday.

But as Lent begins tomorrow, on Ash Wednesday, I have been thinking about the significance of the date that it falls on.

We joked on the show today that today, March 4, is the only date on the calendar that gives a command (as in, march forth). For those that don't know, Lent is a Christian time of the year that includes 40 days and 40 nights that lead up to Easter, the most significant time in Christian faith. It was believed that Jesus fasted for that time period, during which the devil tempted Him.

Even 2,014 years later, we as Christians commemorate that time in history of our Faith with a form of fasting. Many people won't eat red meat on Fridays, and for some, it is Wednesday and Friday. This is why the local restaurants, fire halls, VFWs and churches are swamped with people on those days during late winter and early spring.

For some, there is a further sacrifice that is made. It may be not drinking pop, or trying to give up smoking or not eating chocolate until Easter arrives. I have tried giving up bread and candy and things like that, and although it may seem easy, it was a struggle! Granted, it was nothing in comparison to the Passion story, but it is symbolic and a daily reminder of what this time of year and our faith as Christians is all about.

I was thinking that this year, I may try to do something a bit different. I am thinking of adding something positive rather than removing something negative. Don't get me wrong, I think that dropping a bad habit is a great idea no matter what time of the year, and as a guy that has smoked in the past, I understand how difficult that can be, and yet I also know the rewards it carries.

With the long winter we have had and the amount of negativity in the world, I think a twist on this long-standing tradition is acceptable. For example, perhaps this is the Lent that you try to smile more often, laugh more often or say hi to a stranger on a daily basis. For me, I really would like to take up long-distance running and even have considered looking in to the possibility of learning another language.

Just like the traditional Lenten sacrifices, the idea is to not set your goals too high. If you can't run long distances, perhaps marathon training isn't a goal you should set. There are little things that you can do these 40 days that will improve your life. Call on an old friend, have a healthier diet, get a new wardrobe or try something new or something that you have always wanted to try.

I realize that I am not the poster child for always doing the right thing, and I make it a point to never push my Faith on others. However, I believe that the Lenten season is about a new beginning. Resurrection doesn't have to wait 'til after death. Each and every day, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the talents and gifts that perhaps you have over looked or just haven't gotten the nerve to try your hand at.

Just like Christmas, there is a reason behind the season we are heading in to. You don't have to believe in Jesus, and quite frankly, you don't have to have a Faith in God either to be able to get involved. Take this season and this day to "march forth" to a better you. For 40 days, put your best foot forward toward an obtainable goal. There will be set backs and struggles, but I think the benefits will be completely worth the 40-day journey!

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