Buy box, return jewel
One of my Chinese friends said this year their Christmas greeting was mai du huan zhu.
Of course I had to ask what that meant.
A long time ago a craftsman found a unique jewel and polished it up till it glowed like a star. When it came to selling it, he wanted to design a box worthy to hold it. He used the finest wood and the most colourful enamel.
Finally a customer came who seemed rich and refined enough to deserve to be its new owner. The customer examined the box carefully, inside and out. He seemed satisfied.
After paying a handsome price he gave it to his servant to carry and they left.
The next day the servant returned with a cotton bag. ‘My master found this in the box and wants to return it,’ he said.
The craftsman looked inside and was amazed to see the jewel.
‘But this is a priceless Jewel, does your master not want it?’
The servant looked puzzled, ‘My master is very proud of the box but has no time for whatever was in it.’
Every Chinese child knows that story, mai du huan zhu, buy box, return jewel.
So what was that to do with Christmas? Well, I was told, at Christmas we enjoy the decorations and trapping but might overlook the jewel behind them.
What jewel? If you don’t know what the jewel is you won’t recognise it.
Hoping you (and I) will find it this year and that it helps clear off some of the gloom and fear with which the year ends,
And have a Happy Christmas! Hugh