A Very Buddhist Christmas Eve
People who know me well know that I’m a vegan and that I don’t believe in god. Depending on your definition, I’m either an agnostic or an atheist. I don’t worship a heavenly being or believe that if I pray to anyone hard enough, frequently enough or sincerely enough, that my prayers will be answered.
Why, then, do people insist on asking me what I’m doing for Christmas, and seem offended when I say "Nothing special." They want me to be Catholic again for that one day, and express my Catholicism through the consumerism of Christmas. No one comes a-callin’ on Good Friday (when Jesus was crucified), which I’d think would be a fairly important day to ponder the life of Jesus. And when he allegedly rose from the dead on Easter, I don’t get many people calling me gravely disappointed because I haven’t gone to church or bought any Peeps (which I believe aren’t vegan anyway).
So what’s with the obsession with Christmas among people who don’t even go to church and who think that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the day Jesus was conceived (it’s not)? And why do they assume everyone on the planet wants to celebrate Christmas (either as the day of Jesus’ birth or the day of consumerism)? If I were Jesus, I’m not sure I’d be too happy with what has developed in my name. In fact, I think I’d be quite sad.
Having said all that, I’m going Christmas shopping today. And no, I’m not going to impose my sense of what’s a good gift on others. Gifts are supposed to be for the receiver, not the giver. Now, I won’t be getting a goat for anyone from Oxfam or Heifer Int’l, even if the receiver wants a goat more than anything. There’s always a fallback. But my point is that for one day that is apparently important to many people for a variety of reasons, I’m happy to do something to make my friends and family happy. Not make them think if they haven’t exhibited the desire to think, not make them ponder the way they live their lives, just make them smile, because that’s what they want. That’s what they expect on Christmas. Even some of my Jewish friends.
I’ll spend the day meditating as I shop around, and at least try to focus on my breath and be present for everything I’m doing. And drive with intention, park with intention, elbow my way through crowds with intention, and be grateful that I have money to spend on gifts that will make people smile.
My statement–my activism–for the day, is to surrender and find the shortest, least painful path to making other people happy for a day, even if they don’t respect what makes me happy.