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Like the 4th of July…

December 28, 2009
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Christmas is one of those legal holidays that gets lost on me. The 4th of July celebrates the USA’s independence from Great Britain in 1776. Duh – in 1776 no one on my family tree in the USA was independent from anything (insert ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot” voiceover here). Nevertheless I’ve always enjoyed the great picnic weather, the BBQ, the festive fireworks and of course the holiday pay from the gig (insert “William Tell Overture” here)!

But as a self proclaimed Buddhist practioner, the Christmas thing really baffles me. I don’t wear it as a T-shirt (aside from this blog) yet I’ve made no secret that the concept of Christianity leaves many open spaces in what is becoming my truth and that many aspects of some Buddhists schools of thought are more comfortably relatable to me.

Still, I enjoy the holiday season… the food, the getting together with family and friends…the cards with pictures of my friend’s growing children…watching It’s a Wonderful life, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz (which I didn’t catch this season for some reason) and most definitely the holiday pay from the gig.

Here’s what I don’t enjoy or at most am perplexed by…

1. The 1st phone call I received on Christmas morning at 6am while I was seasoning and massaging my leg of lamb for the oven, was from my 1st and oldest csi*Buddhist friend – wishing me “Merry Christmas” in her loudest cheeriest voice. Duh? I thought she of all people would be rattling off hours and hours of nam myoho renge kyo’s at 6am, not calling to wish me happy birth of Jesus day.
2. The next half a dozen of people who called or texted me shortly after with the same greeting. These people were no doubt under their colorfully lit trees watching their little tax deductions rip open presents they can’t afford, that were charged to cards still carrying the balance from the presents they purchased for them last Christmas. I was cooking. I don’t have a phone in my kitchen so each call was a small nuisance.
3. The retail stores who earn nearly half of their revenue for the entire year from Christmas shoppers who can’t be bothered to “show” or “say” CHRISTMAS in their “holiday” visual displays, for fear of offending the Jews who do most of the shopping at and owning of the stores the rest of the year. I saw stores who had lime green decorations or pink or blue decorations, but no RED decorations (the official Christmas color) while making billions of dollars off people who were shopping only because they celebrate Christmas. I saw store Santa’s but no store nativity scenes. How rude. What an opportunity for any baby products company to cash in on – isn’t the whole day honestly about a newborn baby, whatever your belief system is? I can see it now – “Come See The Baby” – by Johnson & Johnson.
4. The people who said Merry Christmas to me in an almost treating way then pausing with a look of, “now you better say it back”. I have a very Christian cousin who does this in spite of knowing how I feel about the whole thing. He’s still answering his phone with Merry Christmas or at least when I call, and its several days later. Last night when I called him I told him Christmas is over, it was Friday! He told me Christmas can be any day. I asked him then why doesn’t he answer his phone that way in July – he didn’t think that was funny. I did. No one wishes their Jewish friends Merry Christmas, so why do people feel it’s cool to thrust Christmas on their Buddhist friends? It’s like they are all waiting for me to come to my senses and renounce the dharma and accept Jesus as my Lord and personal savior….sigh.

All in all I still enjoy the Holiday season. From Thanksgiving on to January 15th – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (more holiday pay – woo hoo)! But the thing to remember is that like what I think my cousin was trying to say, is that any day can and should be a day to pause and celebrate all of the beauty and joy that is life.

With Gassho,
~RB

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