We expect a lot from our kids.  We demand good behavior in church, kneeling up straight for evening prayers, and speaking up when saying the Rosary.  We keep Lent (and Advent).  We fast and abstain when the Pope says we’re sposta.  And all that’s great.  It’s its own reward yadda, yadda, yadda.  But there’s another side to our Catholic faith — the fun stuff.  And we do all that, too.  Fat Tuesday is one of the most popular days of the year in our house.

Breakfast starts with our own version of a King Cake.  I usually make my grandmother-in-law (is that a thing?)’s coffee cake recipe, but anything cake-y will do.  The important part is that we hide a ring inside (just like we do for Epiphany).  

That’s the bottom of the cake with the ring showing.
We turn it over before cutting it.

Whoever gets the ring is King or Queen of Mardi Gras.  That person (kid OR grownup) gets to decide all the little things of the day.

We make Mardi Gras masks to wear at dinner, then pretend we can’t recognize each other.  There are plenty of cute craft kits
available, but I prefer to just use whatever I have lying about.

From a GREAT tutorial at alphamom.

For dinner, I make Shrimp Etoufee from a recipe given to me by an actual person from Louisiana.  We eat it with cornbread while listening to French music.

Does anyone want the recipe?
It’s pretty easy, especially if you use a food processor.

But all of that is just a prelude to after dinner, when we try to eat up all the treats in the house.  First, I separate out hard candy and we donate that to the troops.  Then, we have a go at the rest of the leftover candy from Halloween and Christmas, the frozen cake scraps and ice cream from the five family birthdays we have in fall and winter, the various open bags of cookies, all of it.  The kids like to make crazy ice cream sundae concoctions, the details of which I will not share.  Because they’re gross.

Then (hopefully) before we’re all sick, whatever we don’t eat gets fed to the chickens or tossed.


Finally, we watch The Princess and the Frog.

You may have heard people say that The Princess and the Frog is full of voodoo and black magic and so you shouldn’t let your kids see it.  Well, it is.  But, you can.  Or I do anyway.  I like that there are appropriate consequences for the character who deals in black magic.  The Shadow Man gets dragged into hell by demons.  So . . . make note of that, children.
The two main characters show us that virtue is in the middle between overwork and laziness.  They both learn temperance.
And my favorite bit is easily overlooked.  In this movie, marriage is a real thing that makes you fundamentally different.  The details aren’t easily explained.  But, once they are married (as frogs) and kiss the spell is broken.  Because once she marries the prince, she becomes a princess.  She is a different person, so now the magic works.  I like that.  THEN they get married in a church, because swamp weddings don’t count.  For frogs yes, but not for people.
Problematic: The character of Mama Odie is a positive portrayal of the use of ‘hoodoo’ magic.  She tries to do ‘good’ with her magic and doesn’t appear to be appealing to the dark side the way that the Shadow Man does.  But, obviously, this isn’t behavior we want to encourage, so it’s worth pausing the dvd and mentioning that prayer and personal effort are the way to go if something in your life needs changing.  Even if it’s REALLY important, like that you’ve been turned into a frog.  (Pausing and discussing enables us to watch movies as a family that we would not be comfortable presenting to the kids without guidance.  More on our philosophy on screens here.)
It’s also scary in parts.  I think it is empowering to kids to be exposed to (appropriate) scary stories and movies.  But if you have a sensitive child, perhaps it’s not for you.
We are going to screen it for the whole family next week, including the three year old.

So, that’s what we’re doing.  If you’re planning to do Lent, why not do Fat Tuesday too? 

Laissez les bons temps rouler (Lazay Lay Bon Tom Roulay)
Let the good times roll!