A Buddhist Christmas

You don't have to feel bad about not having a Christmas tree or decorations, or not having a circle of friends/family/coworkers to exchange and receive gifts with. You can turn off the TV or watch whatever else you want when the endless holiday movies and characters reflect far from your own experience growing up. You don't have to feel bad for not fitting in with the flow of annual US national holidays that crowd every street and store, reminding us what to buy next. If you or your family don't celebrate, it doesn't make you any less than. It doesn't make you lazy or a bitter Scrooge, as what you might even begin to associate yourself with. You don't need to partake if it means criticizing or questioning yourself because of your lack of involvement, and whether or not your friends or larger society will accept you more, largely because of their own efforts to keep up and stay connected. There is also nothing wrong if this time of year brings you joy, fuzzy feelings, great company and good tidings. Otherwise, you have the opportunity to create your own rituals to invite new beginnings into your life, and leave out what no longer serves you. How many of us give selflessly and expect nothing in return, and how many of those gifts are of service outside of material things? Do not let what is fed to you define you. When we awaken to our full Selves, we alchemize our own realities and learn that true love, friendship, and joy cannot be bought or sold. Presence precedes presents. Those who are meant to be in your lives will appreciate you, regardless if you've gifted them with something fitting for this time of the year or not.

With that being said, my love extends to all of you - and that is the greatest gift I have to give all year round! I can genuinely say I hold no animosity toward anyone in my life, and am excited for new friendships to develop that will feel like old intimacy (quote Nayyirah Waheed).

Now, if only we got excited about Jesus's birthday (for those who remember what today is really supposed to be about lol) as much as Buddha's, Muhammad's, Krishna's, Lao Tzu's, and other spiritual leaders, especially the unnamed warrior women who weren't given US national holidays for us to take off from work to celebrate and reflect on their teachings...

According to feng-shui practitioner and interior designer Tisha Morris,

"The holiday season presents us with a stark juxtaposition of yin and yang energy. Winter is yin, but the busy-ness of the holidays forces us to be yang, throwing our natural rhythms into confusion... Yin is the quiet, passive, still energy; yang is active, energetic, and moving. Seasons are one of the primary ways we see the Five Elements cycle, the yin and yang. Winter is yin; summer is yang. In fact, the Winter Solstice – when day is the shortest and darkest – is the highest expression of yin energy. The veils between heaven and earth are at their thinnest in the Water phase. It is a time to go inward, a time for reflection, journaling, and meditating. It’s no wonder that many religions have chosen this time of year to celebrate their deities. Holi-days were originally intended to be Holy Days. Unfortunately, this is completely contrary to what our culture calls us to do. Travel, presents, commercialism, decorations, and family obligations take center stage and are often combined with financial strain, inordinate pressures, and loneliness. Perhaps we as a society have devised these distractions as a way to not face the Water phase. After all, the Water phase is a time of looking inward, which most of us would like to avoid."

She goes on to explain in-depth more about the yin and yang, and offers ways to take advantage of the Water phase to make the upcoming holidays more holy for you. Read the full article at LA Yoga, "Create Space for a Happy Holidays".

Lion's Roar also posted an article about Buddhists and how they celebrate the holidays:

"Christmas was not a Christian holiday. It wasn’t an American one. For my Thai family, 8,000 miles from home, Christmas was our holiday. I didn’t know it didn’t belong to us displaced Buddhists on the gritty southside of the city. I only knew that the voices of Bing and Pat gave my mother joy. I only knew the care and precision my father took in making our house the brightest on the block. I only knew that when dinner came, we gorged ourselves on basil chicken, green curry, roasted meats from a Chinatown that never closed, and steaming bowls of jasmine rice." -Ira Sukrugruang

For more stories like this, read more at "Have a Very Buddhist Christmas".

With 2016 coming to a close, what new rituals will you invite in?