Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Monday: More New Year Visits and Almsgiving Preparations Begin

Another Homemade Card
(the last one, I promise!)

A friend of mine called today and said she was dropping off some additional gifts!  She had already given me some gifts, earlier, when we exchanged gifts by leaving each other's gifts on the doorstep, last week.  I told her it was not necessary, but, she insisted that it was!  LOL.  We stood outside the door, fully masked, and wished each other for the New Year.  She brought a calendar and some Harry Potter items for my daughter and a tin of French butter cookies for me!  Needless to say, I put the cookies away to enjoy later; much, much later! 

Today, I began on my almsgiving preparations in earnest.  Long time readers of my blog will know that I have been holding an almsgiving, nearly every year, usually in December, when I invite the Buddhist monks from the Temple to my home and offer them lunch and other donations. The last one I held was in 2019.  In 2020, I sent a donation to the Temple in lieu of holding an almsgiving (due to COVID) and that was the plan for 2021, too.  But, I missed not being able to hold an almsgiving in my house because I feel that having it in my home blesses the house, as well.  Daughter suggested having the almsgiving at the beginning of this year, instead, so she could help me with the cooking and the preparations.  I think I like the idea of starting off the year with an almsgiving; this might become a new tradition!

We scaled back the almsgiving due to COVID, since new case numbers are rising as a result of the Omicron variant.  Only two monks will attend (as opposed to the usual 5-7 in previous years) and no other participants will be present, only my daughter and I.  I did invite friend R, but, today, she called and asked to be excused, again, due to COVID considerations.  I quite understood.  The monks are fully vaccinated and boosted; daughter and I plan to wear our masks and we will have all three air purifiers running and have a couple of windows open, too, for ventilation.  

The almsgiving is scheduled for this Wednesday (January 5); I will call the monks and confirm it, tomorrow.

I have a master list of things I do to prepare for the event and I firmly believe that list keeps me focused and enables me to do everything in an organized manner!

So far, I have accomplished the following:

- Set the date/invited the monks
- Set the menu; bought the groceries
- Cooked most of the dishes (daughter did the majority of the cooking)
- Got the donations ready
- Cleaned the living room
- Rearranged the furniture to set up the seating area in the living room (very little needed to be done this year because only two monks)
- Set out candles, incense sticks & holder, lighter/matches to light the candles, etc.
- Cleaned the kitchen after daughter cooked and did the dishes

Still to do (Tuesday, January 4):
- Confirm the date with the monks
- Clean the rest of the house (daughter will help)
- Take down the dishes used only for almsgivings and wash them
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc.
- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and basin; fill teapot with water
- Set out new bottle of water for blessing; bowl to catch drips when blessed water is poured out
- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins

Wednesday, January 5 (day of almsgiving)::
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red) 
- Make the salad
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets in saucers; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Warm up the soup, curries; dish out
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Cover chairs, tables (can't do earlier because of the cat!)
- Pick flowers from the garden and arrange in vases
- Boil water and keep warm for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses

10:45 a.m. - Everything should be done and ready!

11:00 a.m. - Monks arrive; Offerings to Buddha, Order of Monks, etc. take place and service begins with devotions being recited.

11:30 a.m. - Lunch is served to the monks

12:00 noon - Monks finish their lunch (they are prohibited from eating after noon), plates are cleared, a sermon is said, blessings are chanted, merit gained from almsgiving is transferred to departed loved ones, and donations are offered to the monks.

1:00 p.m. - the religious ceremonies are concluded, the monks leave; usually, lunch is then served to all the guests who participated, but this year, there won't be any other participants, although I will probably take a plate of food to friend R and neighbor S, etc.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Friend N visiting (and bringing more gifts!)
- Daughter doing the cooking
- My new set of pots and pans (Christmas gift from my daughter; using them for the first time to cook the almsgiving food)
- The cleaning I was able to do
- Working appliances

Today's joyful activity was visiting, however briefly, with friend N.

How was your Monday?  What are your plans for Tuesday?


  1. It's so good to touch with faith. I hope it all goes well.

    1. Thank you, Lyssa. Happy New Year to you and yours. :)

  2. I'm so glad that you are having an almsgiving this year and it looks like you are organized and ready to go. I always work from a list when we have an event. When things get really busy, I don't have to rely on my memory to get everything done.

    1. I'm glad that I can have an almsgiving, this year. I like the idea of starting off the new year with an almsgiving, too. Having a list helps to keep me organized! Otherwise, there is always something that gets forgotten and then, there is a last minute rushing around! The monks usually comment on how organized almsgivings are at my house!

  3. I understand that feeling of wanting to fulfil some spiritual needs in amid all the COVID restrictions & precautions. I hope that the service goes off without a hitch & that many blessing are received to you, your daughter & your house. I miss attending church & I am totally surprised how much I feel the void of not participating in communion. We so often attend to the needs of our bodies & forget the needs of our souls.

    1. Thank you, Mary-Lou; our spiritual needs are just as important as our physical and emotional needs, aren't they? I remember when, in May 2020, the Temple held an online retreat - I felt so uplifted by it. There was no online access to the 2021 retreat due to technical difficulties and I was so disappointed. Thank you for the well wishes for tomorrow's event. :)

  4. The almsgiving requires a lot of preparation on your part so I'm glad your daughter is there to help. Can you choose how many monks attend or is it reduced to two this time because of a decision made at the Temple? Anyway, I hope it all goes well for you.

    1. My daughter's help has been essential, this year! She didn't want me to get stressed and do too much (and possibly trigger another sciatica flare-up!) She's doing the majority of the work!

      I requested only 2 monks due to Covid concerns. It is customary to have at least 5 monks (the minimum number required to make it an almsgiving that is symbolically given to to the entire community of monks, as opposed to only those physically present; I am not quite sure how and why that custom began, but, it might be because the first disciples of the Buddha were a group of 5 ascetics who formed the original community of monks). I will still serve a separate plate of food and offer it to the entire community of monks, as usual, even if only 2 monks are present. We need to be flexible and adapt to present circumstances. :)

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you, Anne. I missed it, the last couple of years! Somehow, sending in a check just didn't seem enough, even though I was able to justify it to myself. :)

  6. Sounds like you have everything under control for the almsgiving. How wonderful your daughter has helped with the cooking and preparations, such a help for you. I'm sure it will be a wonderful event even though you have had to scale it down.

    1. The preparations are going well! It is a blessing that my daughter is here to help (she volunteered to do so; I didn't ask). Not only did she do the majority of the cooking, she did the majority of the cleaning and tidying, too. It's funny how these things evolve, isn't it? Years ago, I helped my mother with the almsgiving and now, my daughter is helping me. :)

  7. What a lovely tradition. I can see why you missed doing it and how it makes you feel that your home is also blessed. Best, Celie

    1. Thank you, Celie. This is something my mother and I started doing back in 1987, after my step-father's death (he died in his sleep in the apartment and we wanted to bless the apartment and then, just carried on every year, afterwards). When my mother couldn't do the work any more, I took over. Now, I am not able to do quite as much and my daughter is helping. :)

  8. How lovely it is to receive additional gifts. You have some lovely thoughtful people in your life.
    I am glad you are able to go with almsgiving this year even if it is scaled back. How nice that your daughter will be able to help.

    1. Additional gifts are always welcome! :D I do have some very caring people in my life. Thank you, Sharon; being able to hold an almsgiving is very important to me at this particular time and I am very grateful that my daughter is helping me with it. :)

  9. I love the stocking card, it is so pretty. I hope all will go smoothly with the almsgiving. Good idea to take some food over later to your friend and neighbour!
    Very quiet day today, only squirrels visiting. Tomorrow we are under new restrictions and will not be able to eat or drink coffee in restaurants and the children will have to go back to on-line learning for a while in our province. I did get some useful cleaning done and made a meat pie for supper.

    1. Thank you, Bushlady; the stocking was very carefully cut out from a card I had received! :)
      Thank you for the almsgiving well wishes. All the work that could be done ahead of time has been done, including washing the front door step and walkway! My daughter wrote the menu and posted it on the fridge door, just as I used to! :D

      Glad you had a quiet day with only squirrels visiting. I had a pair of big possums! Snowball just watched them eat the cat food and then, looked at me through the sliding glass door as if to say, "They ate all my food, Mummy!" But, she had eaten, earlier; the possums are the clean up crew, picking up after the cats!

      I heard about the new restrictions in Canada; I wish they would implement some of those measures, here, too, but, I guess there is no will to do that! Sounds like you are staying on top of the housecleaning and the meat pie sounds delicious! I vacuumed and dusted, while daughter tidied up. :)

  10. You've got everything so well organized. You always inspire me to clean my home.

    1. Thank you, Stephenie. I try to be as organized as I can when it comes to the almsgiving. As for the cleaning, it's a never ending task, isn't it? :)

  11. I'm glad you are able to host an almsgiving this year. I know it means a lot to you to continue with your spiritual traditions.
    As usual, you were very efficient in your set up for your almsgiving. I like your timeline !

    1. Thank you, Debra. Yes, it means a lot to me to be able to hold the almsgiving, this year. Having a timeline helps! Everything proceeded smoothly and as usual, the monks commented on how nicely organized it was. :)


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