After my mother died I took to writing Christmas cards to our family friends as I knew my dad wouldn’t keep up the tradition. Although I never liked sending Christmas cards in my youth, I found a strange enjoyment reaching out in mom’s place with bits of family news and my adventures of becoming a Buddhist priest. If Japanese love Christmas even though most of them are not Christian, so could I.
At first I got lovely cards in return, but as most of mom’s friends were already old and getting older, the handwriting got weaker and shorter over the years. The number of cards dwindled, receiving and sending. I always send a card to dad even though he never sent one. It didn’t matter, we talked regularly and on Christmas too. But then COVID hit and the rest home visitor restrictions and eating alone in his room drained the life out of him. My older brothers live nearby and did what they could. Our talks with grew fewer and shorter, he rarely picked up his iPhone unless one of my brothers were nearby.
Dad entered hospice care after a few recent falls recently and I knew I was sending the last Christmas card I would ever send him. The short list is very short now, I hope he gets it in time. It’s a strange feeling though, deeply experiencing the impermanence of life as taught in the Buddhist tradition, while sending Christmas cards. Not sad really, just hoping dad can leave this life with some dignity, or as he liked to say, ‘leave with my boots on.’ I don’t know what to think about it but I will miss sending those Christmas cards. I already do.
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