So as a Buddhist who is married to an agnostic, some might wonder – do we celebrate christmas?

the answer is “nah, but yeah, but nah”

To be more articulate I can say, we don’t really. We don’t decorate a tree or the house, sing carols, watch Christmas movies, attend a church service and other things.

But as we do live in a society, a society that on the whole celebrates Christmas we do  quite a few things around Christmas time.; there are many social activities – Christmas parties at work and the places we volunteer. There are family get togethers. Every other year we use this time off work to visit Husbots family who live interstate.

Also we try to reciprocate cards to people who give them to us (but I dont really send them out otherwise). We also reciprocate gifts, but mostly just to family and a little to friends.

But there is stuff about Christmas I really don’t like.

I don’t like that there is this myth around Christmas perpetuated by Christmas cartoons etc that it is celebrated ‘everywhere’ and that Santa brings presents to all girls and boys – but only if they have been ‘good’.  Which is untrue for two reasons – 1, it is just not celebrated everywhere. 2, many many children don’t recieve gifts from Santa at Christmas time – but I think that the fact that they dont celebrate Christmas has more to do with it then naughtyness – also poverty in many cases.

When I lived in the Philippines Christmas was a huge deal – but as it was a Catholic nation, Christmas was all about attending church etc. There was a little bit of present exchange – but not much at all. And it was not due to naughtyness.

It is like it is ok to call anyone who does not celebrate Christmas names: naughty, grinch, scrooge etc….  which is not very tolerant! Maybe some people just don’t celebrate/ celebrate differently because of their beliefs etc.

I also can’t stand how some people get at this time of year. The shops are manic! I can’t stand going to the mall at the best of times but I refuse to go around Christmas time because people really loose it. If we buy gifts for people usually we pick up bits and pieces through the year or as I travel that we think they might like and put it away for Christmas time.

Anyway like I said above, we do  actually do quite a few Christmasy things. The things I like to do are the family things, the things that remind people of togetherness etc

However the other thing we hate about Christmas is all the waste! By that I mean all the junky presents that are given with little thought to what the person likes or to the environment!

We give presents  that are one of the following;

  • handmade – so produced my me – see here-, or another small scale handmade producer ( I like to buy things in handmade markets)
  • made by a project partner that my work supports. So people might get a bag or some other beautiful thing that I have bought while in Thailand from the Karen Womens Organisation, or from Borderline who carry lines from many Border based womens organisations. If you can’t get over to Thailand you can still buy this beautiful stuff here in Australia or online from the Weft Shop
  • We also by Christmas gifts from organisations we support like, the Australia Tibet Council who sell beautiful Tibetan books, callenders, prayer flags and other things. Burma Campaign Australia also has some cool stuff that would make excellent gifts.
  • Another place we find ethical gifts is New Internationalist whose shop sells great stuff from around the world. Also from The Environment Shop for sustanibly produced things.
  • We also love to give and recieve donations as gifts, where I work APHEDA has a great Gifts that Change Lives program where a person recieves a card to represent the donation they have made – they can give that card to another person as a gift. One (number 5) supports a program close to my heart, the Burma Children Medical Fund – who arrange treatments for special needs refugee children with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Anyway… I guess there are things about Christmas to let go, and things to hold onto… in the future.

When I was in Thailand I picked up this book:

It merges Christmas with Thailand! Here is another page;

 Even though Christmas is not traditionally celebrated in Thailand, I think this is a cute idea. (another page);

and my favorite:

 I think there is no problem with inventing some new traditions with our family, when they come along 🙂

So whatever you are doing over the next few weeks. Whether it is celebrating a big ‘traditional’ Christmas with lots of presents and family, inventing your own thing to do with your own family or not really celebrating at all. I hope you have a happy and safe time 😉