Tuesday, December 11, 2007


That huge wad of roses, pine boughs and cotton bolls was just too formidable for the table, so I made some adjustments. What do you think? My dear muffin-making friend says it looks more like a New Year decoration than a Christmas arrangement, but that's alright, because I will need a New Year decoration too. One nice thing about being a foreigner in Japan is that I have the choice of holidays, and I like to observe Japanese events as well as those more familiar to me.
One thing we discussed is the similarity of some events across cultures. Halloween and Thanksgiving come about the same time as the Day of the Dead or Diwli or Obon and similar harvest-time, ghost-welcoming, spirit-honoring, ancestor-revering events in other parts of the world. Christmas and Kwanzaa and Hanukkah come at about the same time, and though they obviously honor different events, some of the customs associated with those holidays are similar, so it is no problem to observe a Jewish festival (which, by the way, ends tomorrow) of light, as well as Christmas and Kwanzaa, the African harvest festival, from Dec. 26, or Norooz from the start of the new year. I was never quite sure what Boxing Day was all about (I thought it was some kind of sports day when I was a kid in Indiana. We obviously didn't get out much.)
So the decorations don't matter too much. Some all-purpose combination of cotton and roses and pine should do for all of them plus any others I don't know about. The important thing at these times is to think of the idea of sharing and respecting each other and basically trying harder to live by the Golden Rule (or whatever you choose to call it in your culture.) All seem to have the same fundamental notion, which is simply this: "Treat others as you would like them to treat you."
As the Dalai Lhama put it, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
This holiday season is as good a time as any to put that into practice, don't you think?
Have some of the good feeling of Why Don't You and I, live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwFTcQMKJDg&feature=related