On December 29th, SFYAD held its annual year-end party with the biggest turnout yet! Festive holiday cheer abounded as over thirty members, friends, and family gathered to celebrate the holidays and new year. Thanks so much to Selene and Ben for hosting and Amanda and Carl for organizing all the activities.
Everyone enjoyed a feast of delicious vegetarian hotpot and potluck dishes. Many people brought their own homemade dishes as well as reusable utensils to reduce paper and plastic waste and be more environmentally friendly. There was even a cake to celebrate the members with December birthdays.
After eating and chatting with friends old and new, it was time to play a game called “Human Bingo,” in which all players received Bingo sheets containing different pieces of information, such as “Speaks 3 languages” or “Prefers tea over coffee,” and no one sheet was the same. We then asked various partygoers questions and obtained their signatures if they possessed the quality written on the sheet. The first person to fill out five lines won. Through this game, we had lots of fun meeting new people as well as learning new things about the people we already knew.
Then we moved on to the event everyone had been waiting for, the White Elephant gift exchange. Every partygoer had brought a wrapped gift that they already owned and had not bought specifically for the party. This way, we could reduce waste, as one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. We exchanged many wonderful gifts, including books, electronics, chocolates, mugs, and accessories.
SFYAD was also pleased to invite its guiding Venerable, Venerable Miao Zhong, to reflect on her gratitude during the past year with everyone. Venerable Miao Zhong stressed that one should take initiative and have the courage to face and to change their shortcomings; one should work hard and cherish every moment, not feel regret, and be the best version of themselves.
Venerable Miao Zhong then led the group to recite Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s “Prayer for the Offering of Light.” During the light offering, we each held up a small candle and chanted in unison, praying to illuminate the darkness of ignorance of all sentient beings and to offer more kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity to the world. Venerable Miao Zhong also gave everyone Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s message for the new year, and the organizers handed out bookmarks containing Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s “108 Dharma Words” as souvenirs.
To wrap up the party, we all filled out cards reflecting on the past year, our goals for next year, and people we are grateful for or look up to in some way. It provided a good opportunity to reflect on our progress on our goals for this year and how we can improve in 2020.
- Article Written by Vicky Hibbert
- Photography by Amanda Ong