I enjoy the Christmas season very much, as it gives me another opportunity to give gifts and have fun.
The main fun comes when people say, "Hey! I didn't know Buddhists give gifts at Christmas."
To which one sanctimoniously replies, "Buddhists practice giving all year long."
Well, it is a small thing, but it is still fun.
This year, I've decided to give humane bug catchers. These are made in England, and available over the 'net from the Dalai Lama's favorite mail order outfit, Lee Valley Hardware, up in Canada. His Holiness likes to fix watches as a hobby, and work with small, precision tools, and he once remarked that his main problem is he wants to get everything he sees in the tool catalogs. Many of us have the same problem, and Lee Valley doesn't make it any easier.
These are really rather ingenious, and absolutely do not harm the insect. You can catch them, take them outside, and say mantras while you release them.
So, you see, by giving this particular gift, one is accomplishing several purposes.
One is also saving money, because at CDN $8.50, these are cheaper than a AK47 in Pakistan -- although not by much.
And just what does saving spiders have to do with fundamentalist Islamic arms dealing, you ask?
Well, it is a crude segue into the story of the Prophet hiding in a cave, being pursued by non-believers, and a spider spun a web at the cave's entrance. Seeing the web, the pursuers reckoned the cave was empty, and the Prophet was spared.
So, you can give one of these to your Muslim friends.
You'll excuse me, as now I have to go sing Kumbaya.