Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Buddhist Christmas

Since 2005 I have been a practicing Zen Buddhist, and in Buddhism, we do not celebrate Christmas. However, westernized Zen Buddhism recognizes that many of its followers grew up in Christian, Jewish, Catholic, etc., lifestyles, so it is understood that when December 25th comes around, many Buddhists happily embrace their family tradition of celebrating Christmas. And as a matter of fact, many Buddhist Jewish people I know happily still celebrate Hanukkah too. What I would like to try to impress upon my readers is that my practice of Buddhism is really all about the individual being of an open minded, open hearted mind frame, and open to participate in activities that bring joy to them and sharing in the goodness with others. Buddhism does not pray to Gods, and we do not think of the Buddha as a God or deity. He was a remarkable human being who taught humans about the ability for all of us to find Nirvana through meditation and looking inside oneself for peace. All human beings have this capability, the Buddha is inside all of us, but one has to seek it for themselves as no one or nothing can do it for you. I have a very long way to go in continuing to build up and strengthen my Buddha nature, but at least I'm on the right path. (Read this interesting view point from a Buddhist who celebrates Christmas with her family.)

Back in 2007 is took the precepts in Toronto (our sister sangha to the Ann Arbor community) and accepted a Buddhist name, Suhak, which means, 'To cultivate and learn'. Due to a very busy schedule thanks to school and work in the past 2 years, I haven't been able to attend services as often as I would like. But I do go, and I even volunteered for an event in September and participated in a memorial service in August. In 2006, that was the first year when I stopped putting up my Christmas tree. Especially living alone in my apartment and not having many visitors come by, I did not see the need to have it up anymore. And as the years passed, I got more used to not putting up a tree. On a trip to London in December 2010, I even donated to my friend Lucinda, some Christmas ornaments that I no longer used. They were beautiful and I wanted my English friend to decorate her pretty tree with them (I helped her put them on her tree even). I still very much enjoy the Christmas spirit and I love looking at trees when I am out and about town, and when I visit family and friends. I do burn Christmas scented candles from Yankee Candle, and I have a cool tree topper in the form of a star that turns different colors. Although I don't have a tree to attach it to, I hook the clasp upon the window sill of my living room, and me and my cat Krystal like looking at the pretty star turn into 5 different colors. This is my way of scaling back on the Christmas decorations, but also still acknowledging it in my own Buddhist way.

Because I'm blessed with friends and family who give me gifts for Christmas, I'm more than happy to keep that tradition by giving them gifts as well. But I am mindful of a budget and I get cool, unique, personal gifts that I know they will enjoy. I splurged a bit on my baby nephew Myron who is now 10 months old, and my oldest nephew, well, since he's 19, he expects money (his birthday is Dec. 19) and I'm also pitching in a bit more money to make up for his mom not being with us (Suzy died in 2008). Just because I'm Buddhist doesn't mean I expect everyone else to scale back on Christmas, and I do enjoy being with my family. I don't make it a big long day of celebration, but I spend quality time with them, exchange gifts, eat, and go. That's how I roll on Christmas.

So tonight, my dining room table is full of packages of small cool gifts, and I'll be making some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that only I appear to be able to successfully make in my family, and I got some small cookie packages to add those homemade cookies as a gift too. I don't have to travel far to see family, and I didn't stress out with shopping. In fact, I used only a handful of merchants:, Barnes & Noble, Walgreens, Michael's Craft, Game Stop, Avon, Teahaus of Ann Arbor, and Bellanina Day Spa. Two of these places were online, and the others were just across the street from where I live, or close to work. No mall shopping at all!

Now that I'm on winter recess from school, I have so much time available, I literally am at a lost for what to do with my time. I feel like a slacker... I should be doing something that's causing me a migraine, but I'm not. I'm going to chill out, lay low, and prepare for my wonderful getaway trip to Toronto this Friday - Sunday. I'm so glad I booked this trip! So with that, I just wanted to say, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and just have fun and be nice to people. Cheers and hapchang.


  1. Can't wait to see you in Toronto Simone,

    Lots of fun, but relaxing activities planned.

    Merry christmas!

    xoxo, Glenn

  2. I would get a wheel of Dharma tree topper.