When the kids were little, we belonged to a church that had a wonderful Shrove Tuesday tradition. Everyone gathered in the fellowship hall that evening, bringing with them electric frying pans, home-made applesauce, and any food they were giving up for Lent. We ate the snack-type foods while preparing supper together, and everything else was either eaten during the meal or taken home by someone who wasn’t giving it up.
It began with the peeling crew, who started in on several dozen pounds of potatoes. Kids carried peeled potatoes into the kitchen to be shredded, mixed with eggs and flour, and pressed into pans of hot oil. As soon as the first batch was draining on paper towels, the applesauce and sour cream (and catsup for the kids) went out on the tables and the feasting began. The peelers ate first and rotated into the kitchen so the shredders, mixers, and fry cooks could eat.
It was a small congregation and nearly everyone turned out for this festive occasion. The kitchen and fellowship hall formed a kind of great room, so conversation flowed back and forth between those who were cooking and those who were eating. As people finished eating, they filtered back into the kitchen to clean up. It was like a big family dinner where everyone shares the work as well as the meal.
We all went home with hearts and bellies full, fortified in both body and soul for the long Lenten journey we would begin, together again, the following evening.
May your Shrove Tuesday be replete with good food and warm fellowship, regardless of your religious inclinations.
(This post is offered in thanksgiving for the congregation of Good Shepherd Lutheran in Hamden CT, saints both past and present with whom we gladly lift our forks today.)