I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas is not the holiday that I want to build a family tradition around. Oh, sure, Santa Claus will visit on Christmas Day, but I prefer to put my “holiday energies” into Bodhi Day. Last week, I spoke at Brianna’s school about Bodhi Day and why we celebrate Buddha’s enlightenment.
So, what are the elements of a family-oriented rohatsu celebration?
- Bodhi tree — Due to a lack of ficus religiosa at my local garden center, we will substitute an evergreen tree, which are available in abundance
- Decorations — Coloured lights (like prayer flags, representing the many paths to wisdom); the morning star atop the tree (natch); and ornaments to represent the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
- Food— Siddartha ate a meal of rice and milk before beginning his vigil under the Bodhi Tree. Rice pudding it is! Rather than a big turkey dinner, I’d like to keep the meal simple (and light!) so as to best appreciate the subtle and amazing goodness that is homemade rice pudding. Have I mentioned that I like rice pudding? A lot?
- Activities — Bri’s teacher and I chatted a bit about this. Kindergarteners aren’t gonna sit for 10 minutes, let alone all night. The class ended up drawing a picture of the Buddha under the Bodhia Tree with the Morning Star shining in the sky. Because Bodhi Tree leaves are heart-shaped, the kids liked drawing them. Art practice is good.
Somewhere on the interweb, I read that some folks light up the Bodhi Tree on December 8, then keep it lit every night for the next 30 days. We typically get cut trees, so I’m not sure if it’ll last that long, but I think keeping the lights on until the New Year feels like it fits nicely. Keeping a candle lit for that time also feels right.
Of course, there must be zazen, but that’s for me and the night before.
What are you doing for the holidays and why?