Someone asked me the other day if I celebrate Christmas. It's a fair question -- I am an atheist, and a practicing Buddhist. It would seem not to be a holiday you would find on my personal calendar. And yet I love it.
Part of it is this. I grew up rootless, tradition-less. My parents immigrated from Europe and all our other relatives were still there. So we didn't have grandma's pumpkin bread, or great aunt Tillie's eggnog, or stories of Christmas past that it seemed everyone else had. So I wanted all of it. I wanted Christmas carols, stockings, the tree. I would have wanted a Christmas goose or figgy pudding, if I had known what those were. I told Santa my Christmas wishes and worried that we didn't have a chimney. I loved all the Christmas cards that would arrive.
As an adult, with a child of my own, I wanted tradition. TRADITION. We carved out a few of our own, and we made sure the grandparents and aunts and uncles were part of every Christmas. I wanted our kid to feel a sense of family, of history, of belonging someplace.
But now the kid is mostly grown. And I still adore Christmas. I love giving gifts, finding the thing that will make someone light up, or just feel loved and remembered. I love how people express their feelings during the Christmas season. Hugs, kisses, warm wishes, it's all okay to share on Christmas. There are no strangers on Christmas. Everywhere there is kindness. People share what they can, give what they can.
Christmas gives me hope. If we can all be like this for a day, for a week, we can be like this always. We can live with open hearts. We can take care of each other.
May all beings be at peace. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be free from the causes of suffering.
Merry Christmas, every one!