This was my third New Year’s service at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. If you don’t normally do much for New Year’s, this is a great tradition to adopt. The year-end service begins at 11pm. After that there’s a quick bite to eat, and then at midnight the church bell is rung 108 times to symbolize the extinguishing of the 108 earthly desires. Following the bell ringing, the New Year’s Day service is held. During this service Ven. Kenjo Igarashi offers purification blessings for all of the members’ home altars.
Last year I had a memorial service for my father and mother. This year I had a memorial service for my stepmother. Today I’m 66 years old and I still haven’t let go of the fact that my parents divorced when I was 9 years old and my father remarried and remained happily married until his death. Ann Hughes wasn’t an evil stepmother. Far from it. She just wasn’t my mother. With the memorial service I honor her place with my father and let go of my resentment. I’ve added a photo of my father and Ann to my side altar where I honor my ancestors.