Christmas is an interesting period, and I decided to continue my thoughts on this topic. With the Christmas season, I find that its easy to get swept along during this period without really slowing things down and trying to see whats going on. Generally its good to give to others, but the most important thing is to really examine the intention behind it all. Working with the intention is a big topic in buddhism, and is very applicable to christmas.
Like I could get presents for a couple friends and family members, but if my intention for giving presents is mixed with expectations of gratitude from others, there’s a huge possibility that I can walk away from Christmas unhappy. What if the person doesn’t like my present? What if they don’t say thank you? What if don’t get me a present? What if they get me something I don’t need it or I already have it? What if it appears that I spent a lot of time trying to get them something thoughtful, and they just recycled a present and gave it to me?
Christmas is a very good time to try to apply things from my buddhist practice. I’ve found that the best thing is to just give and setting a firm motivation to not expect anything in return and not to even think about expectations.
This year I made an effort to try to get in contact with people I havn’t contacted in a few years with the intention of trying to brighten up their moods. I targeted people, who I thought, in particular, tended to not have happy holiday seasons. One of my friends who is stationed over seas in the military, and he seems pretty soured by the whole holiday thing. On his facebook were comments of “Bah Hum Bug.” The funny thing is, this is something he’d actually say in real life. I got a response from him that was surprising, in that he was happy that someone was trying to contact him. I had a feeling very people did.
Christmas was also a good excuse to try to heal up old wounds and unfinished business. Sometime in my mid 20’s, I was sharing an office with two guys and trying to get a business going. The whole thing went sour and I lost more money then I would have liked and felt like I got unnecessarily dragged through a lot of things, and in my mind I blamed them. When I look back on the situation now, I see that they were just two people trying to be happy and wern’t particularily clear on how that was going to happen. On top of that, it was my decision to get involved in this.
In my mind, I tried to bury the whole thing figuratively, the whole experience and the people involved. I wanted the whole thing dead and didn’t want to be reminded of it. This Christmas season I unearthed it, which is in line with what buddhism would reccomend. I did something I didn’t think I’d ever do, which was try to contact them and sent them some things. I really have no idea if they got those things, but from my side I felt like I did what I could and if I were to ever see them again, I wouldn’t feel akward or angry in any case. In a sense, giving is not about just giving gifts, but wanting to share the thought of “I hope you’re ok and I think your happiness is important also.” Through giving, I found that I was able to actually let go of a past burden.
I’m not sure what an ideal buddhist is and I’m not sure I fit that mold, but generally celebrating christmas as a buddhist entails the process of letting go of ideas, expectations, old set ways and allowing myself to rest in that peace of mind.