Someone asked me why I celebrate Christmas recently. I’m Buddhist and in our house we don’t hide that fact. We have Buddhas, Bodhisattvas around our house, it’s just who we are.
But as an American and being raised in a Christian faith I saw people of other faiths shunned because of their faiths. My best memory is of a kid in fourth grade that was a Jehovah’s Witness. He could not come to our Christmas party because of his beliefs and some of the kids made fun of him. I knew this was wrong. I always think of that kid.
When my wife and I decided to start having kids one of our first discussions was faith. I had always been into Eastern and New Age philosophies when we were dating. My wife came from a Christian background. Everything I was talking about was very new to her and she had questions, still does.
We didn’t want our kids to be the black sheep of the school yard. We decided that no matter what our beliefs our kids would celebrate Christmas. Not the holiday so much as what came with it, presents, Santa Claus, stockings, Rudolph.
I’ve always believed Christmas is not so much about the religious aspects anymore as being giving, spending time with family and loving each part of the human race. Most of these things come naturally in Buddhism anyway.
When my son sees a picture of Christ, he asks who he is, I tell him. I don’t fill him with a bunch of stuff to make him hate any religion, because that would go against my beliefs.
My son has asked me why people celebrate Christmas. I told him, “A very wise man a long time ago was born on that day. Millions of people around the world celebrate his birth as Christmas. They are called Christians.” He hasn’t asked why we celebrate Christmas. I will give him the same response I’ve given in this post.
“We decided before you and your sister were born that we wouldn’t force religion on you. We would let you decide. By doing that, we decided to celebrate Christmas, because we felt it was the best thing to do.”
I’m not sure what his response will be. We let our kids be who they want to be. If they decide to walk a different spiritual path I have no reservations and will not push them one way or the other. But I will suggest they let their kids be who they want and not restrict them based on their beliefs.
I hope everyone has Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever you may celebrate this time of year. May you enjoy your family and be able to create the memories and traditions that will carry you throughout your life.