The Full Stop of Christmas—reflections of a Buddhist on a Christian Holiday. ~via Catherine Fordham

Via on Dec 26, 2008

Catherine Fordham, a second-gen American Buddhist or ‘Dharma Brat,’ lives and works in New York City.

Christmas is not my holiday.

It was not my saviour born on this night, it is not my church that gathers, not my family at Mass. And yet, as a Buddhist on Christmas Eve, I can’t help but feel something.

It’s not excitement for presents, since I got my one and only days ago, and it’s not anticipation for big plans, since mine only includes Chinese food and movies. It’s the erie, exciting, anticipatory feeling of the whole City clicking, coming into synch.

In such a diverse, complex world, and maybe especially in such a hectic, bustling city like New York, there is real power in so many people stopping together. The whole city shuts down—and people gather together at home, for once. Black storefronts, closed restaurants, warm ovens, quiet streets. The radio plays one kind of music. There are specials on TV. I’ve felt it since I was a child—it’s the one time all year when almost everyone is on the same page. Sure, other national holidays unite us in our activity—Thanksgiving is a day to eat, no matter what religion you are; and all over the nation we enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July.

But there is something far more reverent taking place, even on this most commercial of holidays.

It’s a stop. And it’s a full stop with the depth that this holiday brings with it. It’s a full stop that has happened on time, no matter the world situation, for thousands of years. And, even if it’s not specifically relevant to my religion that Jesus was born on this eve, performed miracles, and met three wise men—it’s a day with history, and with a great story, and a capacity to make all the men on Wall Street stop to sing together.

And that’s pretty darn sweet to me.

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12 Responses to “The Full Stop of Christmas—reflections of a Buddhist on a Christian Holiday. ~via Catherine Fordham”

  1. elephant journal admin says:

    Rusty Boulder at 11:00pm December 24
    i love buddhists. merry christmas!

  2. anna gee says:

    Yeah I always wondered about that… So many of my friends in the Sangha do not celebrate Christmas at all and that’s cool but I feel as though you may be missing out a bit here. You can totally treat Christams in a non religious way. Christmas to my (Buddhist) family is a time to be with each other, we hang lights and make wreaths. We decorate a spruce tree with ornaments, old and new. We bake a lot of sugary treats and eat the same thing every year- Swedish smorgasbord (from my mom’s side). We dance, we drink and we sing. We give to others.

    We do not treat this event in a “religious” way at all. Christmas to us has morphed into a time to be together and rest. It is a time to reflect. All of these practices create warmth and color in a cold dark time of the year.

    Isn’t the whole base of any religion (or truth) Goodness? Love is the fundamental quality of Christmas.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Anne says:

    As a christian, I have always wondered what it was like to not celebrate Christmas. Was it weird, lonely, or a relief? I loved the peaceful quality of Catherine’s piece and appreciate hearing about the holiday from a different viewpoint.

    • John Pappas John says:

      Many Buddhists, myself included, that are not "Dharma Brats" but instead the goodol'converted variety look upon the Holidays as a chance to practice some Buddhist concepts in the "spirit" of the Holiday. Generosity for Christmas (and patience!), Humility and Graditude during Thanksgiving.

      We can do this while celebrating with family and friends. You may not see me at the local Church singing, but my mind is upon my practice.

      Cheers,
      John

  4. Maybe it’s just sleepy Halifax, but it seems to take the world a few days to get back up to speed again after the full stop of Christmas. Like we’re all on a big ship that dropped anchor and just stopped, and it takes a while to get us going again. I love these days between Christmas and New Years.

  5. It’s kind of space and time-ee that so many beings remember Jesus’s birthday. When is your birthday? I want to remember it.. …. ..

  6. [...] reading Catherine Fordham’s article about being a Buddhist on Christmas, it really started me thinking.  Having grown up Episcopalian and converted to Buddhism three [...]

  7. kia says:

    It seems the non-Christian thing to do are the movies and Chinese food while wishing Christians goodwill and a merry day. It is funny how often this ritual gets repeated tomorrow.

  8. John says:

    Peace and Love to all. We enjoy reading the comments. Christmas is a time for everyone to do something good for someone. It makes your heart and mind feel what the holiday means. Christ did something good for us. Just wandered onto this site. We love elephants. Merry Christmas

  9. Dale Clark says:

    I agree I have felt the sync of Christmas as well, every since I was little the whole atmosphere just feels different on this day. Good work and merry Christmas to all!

  10. I am not a religious person and therefore Christmas for me is all about my family. We laugh together, eat together, and spend uninterrupted time with each other. It makes me happy to know that others are doing the same. These days we live life in high gear and spend such little time focused on what is important. Christmas matter because for this one day we all remember what matters most, each other. So happy holidays everyone and remember to say I love you to those that mean the most to you.

  11. Laure Maholmes says:

    Enjoy complete films for free

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