A Wabi Sabi Christmas

Christmas 2019

Wabi: the beauty of humble simplicity, and sabi, the passing of time and subsequent deterioration: everything grows and decays.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Originating in Taoism in China before being passed onto Zen Buddhism, its current meaning embraces impermanence and melancholy.

Wabi sabi is mentioned in two separate articles I read on Christmas morning, and as I follow that with reading more about what the phrase means I concur that accepting transience and imperfection seems like a good philosophy to practice through this longest of days in a long and lonely holiday season, to help me to see that it’s not so bad if I accept that it simply is.

Even limited expectations have to be amended to the beloved Jewish Christmas tradition of Chinese food and going to the movies. Plans are made and altered based on how well-regulated V is and a few other seasonal factors: is he calm enough to go out to eat? Can he sit through even half of a movie? Is it warm/dry enough to go out for a walk and for how long? How will I get through this day?

Amended Plans:

-Gratitude list (I slept and woke up – I’m alive! Coffee. A few minutes to myself before V or Ruby need me…)
-Drive and pick up Chinese food from great little Taiwanese place
-Go to nature preserve for walk
-Go to movies Netflix
-Make and eat latkes, light candles, more gratitude

I’d prefer to eat out, to meet up with friends as we used to do. I wish we could go for a longer walk without all the mud and rocks and branches fallen on the path being a deterrent to Ruby, whose nose is still attuned to every smell but her body cannot keep up as well, And if only V wasn’t so easily distracted or excited by various sensory issues: he keeps stopping to push his pants legs up and then he finds a nice big rock to sit on and refuses to get up for a while, and stops again when we get to a particularly muddy part of the path. We take turns walking with him or waiting him out.

Much of the day spent inside with music, reading, screens. Nothing festive or social but nothing unpleasant either: no run-in’s with family members with different political viewpoints, no exhaustion from cooking and hosting or attending a big family meal. We’re all relatively healthy, a huge blessing. It won’t always be this way, for better and worse.

Accept and savor the imperfection. That’s my wish for all of us in the year ahead.


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