I openly admit that I am not a religious person yet all the while I also admit that I enjoy many of the celebrations around Christmas. It’s partly the warmth, that ‘holiday spirit,’ partly the excuse to have some extra fun, and partly the lovely decorations that invoke memories of the excitement of childhood.
If I really stop to think about it, one of the reasons I like the holiday season is that it is a time to share. I don’t necessarily go farther than baking cookies to distribute to friends and neighbors, and that is enough for me to share a bit of where I come from with those amongst whose company I now live. Years ago I gave up trying to explain just why I enjoy this time of year so much and glean what I like and share that with others.
When I first came to
, I was quite bothered by the New Year’s celebrations which were clearly echoing ‘our’ own Christmas. Trees, decorations, people trying to have fun without really knowing why. And yet when I stopped to think about it, ‘our’ or ‘my’ Christmas really had little to do with anything religious and everything to with fun and feeling good. Turkey
Over the years, the celebrations changed from just a few lights here and there to lights and decorations everywhere, special dinners and gift exchanges, people trying to understand what the deal was but also enjoying the decorations and lights.
But they still sometimes missed the point. A few years back, browsing through my favorite shopping center, as it were, an open-air market in Istanbul, I walked by a life-size plastic Santa Clause singing ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas.
The garbage ladies understand that this is a special time of year for me. Last year they pitched in and bought me a gold necklace with a gold and sparkly rhinestone evil eye. ‘We are always with you and we need to make sure you are protected.’
While I may be appreciative of the general joy of the season (and the mildness of the weather here this time of year), my stress level can still be higher than I wish it were. One of my ladies was kneading my shoulders, helping to loosen me up. My eyes were shut and I was melting with the pleasure of loosening tensions when one of the ladies called out,
‘Here comes Father Christmas!’
There is no literal translation of ‘Santa Claus’ in Turkish; everyone knows the figure though, and call him Father Christmas. After all, St Nicholas was from southern
I figured my ladies were just trying to pull one over on me. I was trying to process how they would understand that seeing Santa would about make my day when another lady called out,
‘He’s almost at our door!’
At that, I lifted my head up, just in time to see Santa Claus walk in, red suit, beard, red Santa hat.
One of our ladies said, ‘If 6 of us go in on a ticket, it’ll only be a lira each.’
It was the Lottery Santa. I told him I would buy a ticket if he said ‘hohohohoho.’
He looked at me and said, ‘I’m just selling tickets, I don’t know about any words that I’m supposed to say.’
He turned away to leave then looked back at me. I swear there was a twinkle in his eye as he looked right at me and said ‘Hohohohoho – is that how it goes?’
I said that would do just fine and bought a ticket.
Very happy holidays to one and all!