Last night my sweetie and I were talking, and I picked up a low-grade sense of sadness about him. I didn’t ask him what was wrong, but later on in our conversation he made a comment that it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to him.
The holidays can be an amazingly beautiful time of year – but they can also contain sorrow. My family isn’t close to me geographically, my sweetie and I don’t have children of our own, and this year we don’t have our puppy with us. Holidays are meant to be occasions to celebrate – but celebration is about sharing experience, kindness, and love with other beings. To be alone during the holidays is an amazingly lonely experience; and while my sweetie and I do have one another (for which I am tremendously grateful), we can also feel a bit lonely in the absence of a larger family around us – be it the absence of our siblings, our parents, our own child, or our pet.
Yet, I can’t control any of those things. I can’t move all of our families closer together; I can’t make my body produce a child, and I can’t bring our puppy back to life. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m without options. I’m just realistic about what I can and cannot do.
I thought for a minute about my sweetie, and the Christmas void he was feeling, and I asked him if he’d like to put up a tree. He said that he actually thought about doing that, but then he remembered the work involved; and since it was just the two of us, why bother?
I rubbed his arm, and sat by his side. And soon we were talking about other things.
But a seed was planted in my crafty little brain. There are some things I can’t do – but I can trim a tree.
So that’s why I found myself hauling a seven-foot tree from our basement this morning; untangling lights; wrapping garland around branches; placing ornaments on limbs; and balancing on a chair to place an angel on the tippy top. I had Christmas music playing in the background, I had a lovely cup of warm sweet coffee to the side of me, and I had joyful feelings of compassion in my heart.
And that is how a Buddhist yogi celebrates Christmas – by sharing love with the people around her, in ways that are meaningful to them. Compassion can be offered in a limitless number of ways; today it took the form of a tree.