As a child, the season of Lent dragged on and on. The seven long weeks bridging the winter to spring season. Coming from a strict Catholic mother, we were also expected to not eat between meals, and to not have meat on Wednesdays or Fridays. Instead of using our allowances to buy candy and go to the movies, we were encouraged to place our coins in the offering basket each Sunday.
My brother Craig’s birthday fell in mid April. This year, his special day fell after Easter. Often, it landed in Lent or specifically, in Holy week, the last week of Lent. During Holy week my Mother buckled down on the family to eat only two small meals with no food on Good Friday until sunset.
I recall one such year, Craig wanted to go to the movies with his friends on Holy Saturday. Mother and Dad discussed the problem and decided to allow Craig to go to the movies with two friends and take me along. Looking back, I think that mom had last minute work to assemble the Easter baskets and wanted to do so without interruptions.
There was a children’s matinee each Saturday. The cost for a ticket was 35 cents. The movie was a Disney or a Lone Ranger offering. Before the show, the manager would take the ticket stubs and put them in a bowl to have twelve tickets pulled for a contest and prizes.
This Saturday, my ticket number was selected but not the birthday boy. I made my way to the stairs on the side of the large screen to claim my prize. There was a large apron of the old Vaudeville shows. I sized up my competition. I was one of the youngest and only girl. The ushers passed out large balloons with the instructions to start blowing then up on the count of three. The first child to blow up and pop his or her balloon would be the winner. I received a bright red balloon, my favorite color. I hated loud noises like bursting balloons and I was sure that I couldn’t beat the competition.
On the count of three, I blew up my balloon but didn’t pop it. Letting out the air, I carefully folded it in my pocket. Now I still had my balloon to use later.
“Why didn’t you pop your balloon?”my brother asked?
“I like red balloons!” I replied.
Later, when I was older, I would explore the stage and dressing rooms of the old theater. That is for another story. For now, I was content with my prize.
Happy birthday Craig
Don’t eat between meals
Fish every Friday
coins to pay
For seven long weeks
we waited out Lent
longing for Easter
with the promise of spring.
until Lent was over
no candy, pop, nothing!
firstname.lastname@example.org April 10th, 2023