Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy of embracing the imperfection and finding beauty in it. It’s a concept that everything in life moves forward, and that includes nature.
Almost a month ago, it was Christmas time. Houses everywhere played the sweet sounds of Christmas and gathered around to decorate and adorn their Christmas trees. In my local neighbourhood, the scouts have run out of fresh pine trees, and Christmas tree stands just weeks before Christmas. When I strolled around my local mall, I found that you can buy personalised ornaments (which aren’t cheap by the way) to hang in your Christmas trees. But just shy of a month afterwards, what happened to those much loved Christmas trees?
A dead Christmas tree dumped on the footpath is a common sight I see on my way to drop my little one to daycare. I wonder what my one year old thinks of the thrown Christmas tree. Was Christmas a lie? I wonder what the people who dumped the Christmas tree thought when they tossed the tree out.
Symbolism is uniquely a human talent. One that has helped us evolve to be the top dogs in the animal kingdom. If the Christmas tree with a star on top of it symbolises peace, love, harmony — all the good things about what Christmas is supposed to mean. Then what does a dumped dead Christmas tree on a footpath tell? It tells me, it’s a crime scene!
What do you love about Christmas? I know a lot of adults who says they hate Christmas or don’t celebrate it anymore.
Well, what about when you were a kid? What were your fondest memories of Christmas?
When I was a kid, my most special memories were the ones I spent with my family. We sang Christmas carols; we would put on our best clothes for the Chrismas eve mass, and just before bed on Christmas eve — all the kids would hang socks by the window with their written wishes inside.
These memories were not about material things. I don’t remember the gifts; I don’t even remember if we had a Christmas tree or not; I do remember the love and laughs.
Maybe the sight of the dead Christmas tree was shocking for me because it is such a blatant display of short-termism.
In a world where we can get anything with just a click, we buy something and say that we love it, and yet a few short weeks later we toss it out then replace it with something new. The cycle continues. The memories get shorter; the love gets shallower, and the new gets adored.
Is this the way of loving I want to teach my kid? I sure don’t.
As I push my little one in her stroller, I think that the gift of learning Wabi-sabi is becoming even more pressing. Finding beauty in the cracks and embracing its imperfection. Maybe one day she’ll grow to love passionately, be easy on herself, and not dump a Christmas tree by the foot path.
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