First Christmas in Turkey

So first of all I would like to wish all my readers and fellow bloggers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope that you have had a wonderful time in whichever country you are and surrounded by people you love. Luckily for anyone that is away from their loved ones on this festive period, we are in an era where technology can separate the thousands of miles between us, taking away the pain of not being together on this momentous season.

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Today is Boxing Day, I’m actually very surprised at how excited I was for Christmas. This is my first Christmas in Turkey you see, first ever Christmas away from my family and not in my ‘home’ country. Usually I always travel back for the festive period, that way I’m able to catch up on all the gossip, feast on turkey and trimmings, along with seeing my wonderful family and friends.

However this year I went back to England mid October, this was due to two reasons, 1. cheap flights there and back, I mean who wouldn’t fly at £80 return? 2. I was going absolutely crazy after not visiting since last Christmas. so here we are, making a big step in the right direction, not having to rely on England for one more thing. I actually am pretty impressed and pleased with myself.

In all honesty I want to be the centre of attention for the week that I return, before going back to Turkey where I am away from my family. When it is Christmas, although it is meant to be quality time, I don’t actually find that. I want to have long conversations about what I have missed or what I’ve been up to, but with everyone around and it being Christmas celebrations, I find that it all gets put on the back burner because everyone is far to busy. My grandparents have all of my cousins and aunties around so you can hardly get a word in edge ways, my sister is trying to make sure that everything is in order, cooking food, keeping an eye on my niece whilst making sure everyone’s drinks are topped up, my niece having everyone fighting for her attention and being shell shocked by all the new gifts she’s received . The hardest is with my niece, she is now 2 and a half years old, last year she was one and a half. Of course she had grown up so much since the last time I saw her. I missed out on so much and when I am back I really want to spend as much time with her as possible and build the bond that I loose every time I’m away, so I’m no longer living in the telephone that she thinks I am. Unfortunately the Christmas period is the one time of year that there is so much going on, such a busy period and everyone is rushing about, that you have come and gone, ending up being more stressed then when you went, with seeing everyone but not being able to get much one on one time between different people that you would in any other time.

Now I have had many discussions with my husband about celebrating Christmas together, at first I got the whole ‘I don’t want to celebrate a religious festival’ to ‘I don’t even no what to do for Christmas, I mean yeah I’ve seen it on TV but how am I meant to understand.’ Luckily though there is one thing that has been able to help me. Turkey pretty much does a round about, similar kind of thing on New year as we do at Christmas. Now my husbands family, unfortunately, didn’t really celebrate it so much, but he always had that want as a child to bring the new year in with a bang. So what I done was divert that thinking and channeled it into Christmas day.

My first challenge was getting my husband off work. As many of you are aware, Christmas is not a recognized holiday, so your children and partner will be at school and work. Trying to get your husband to arrange anything in advance is a nightmare in any time of the year, let alone explaining to their boss they need Christmas Day off. My husband is an English teacher, so taking holiday in winter is usually a no go. I asked him a month and a half in advance, and continually reminded him every few days. However frustrating this is, it’s just one of those things you have to deal with whilst being married to a Turk. He finally asked his boss on the 23rd December and managed to get half a day off, returning at 12pm. Where I live in Side, Turkey, it is a small little tourist town, with Manavgat gradually expanding year by year with new really has done wonders lately, and this year for one of the first times on the build up to Christmas, I really felt cheer in the air. Shops with pre sales on, snow sprayed on the front windows with ‘mutlu yillar’ written, lights hanging of all the lamp posts, caked over trees and public grass areas, as well as in many restaurants. My husband always says these sorts of extra items are due to re elections and wanting votes. Whatever it’s to do with, it really helped to make me excited about Christmas.

When the time came to go Christmas food shopping, I decided to buy a chicken as for two of us, a Turkey was far too expensive and big (however much I would have loved to say I ate Turkey in Turkey). We bought all the types of items you would think about getting, crisps, chocolate, along with all the trimmings, we even got some after eights from A101 (things are starting to look up!) Christmas Eve I started to do baking, making some cinnamon sugar cookies whilst streaming English TV and saw a funny commercial about vigrx plus….. I made myself a rum and coke and called my dad and then sister to see how they were getting on with preparing for Christmas.

The feeling was so strange, I actually felt like the next day was Christmas. Some of you may think ‘what is she talking about’, but when your in your home country, you have it ingrained into your brain from the 1st December, Christmas adverts on TV, all the decorations being placed up in the centre of town, your colleagues chit chattering about their plans for the time they will have off. All these little things remind you every second of the day that Christmas is on its way. Most years here, I feel nothing, I usually fly back Christmas eve and then bamn, the next day is Christmas day. This year it wasn’t the case, I made myself look for little signs around me, I guess psychology influenced myself to adapt to their small build up to new year and piggy back on to it to feel the Christmas spirit.

Christmas day however was a slow starter, my husband went to work in the morning, at first this was fine. I got up, fed the dogs and cleaned the apartment crazily preparing for when he got home. He returned just after 12 and we had some brunch together then headed out to the pay phone to call the family members who arent great with technology. It was wonderful hearing what they were up to on Christmas day and gave me that short lived sprinkle of Christmas cheer. After we decided to go for a little walk and stop for tea. I guess this was the mistake we made, as then it felt like any normal day, surrounded by Turks drinking Turkish tea. I panicked and made us rush home. When we returned I started to prepare Christmas dinner, Toystory 3 was on BBC One and my husband was playing games on the Ipad. It may have only been the two of us, no parents, kids or other family members running about playing games, but in that moment, everything was bliss. I was where I was meant to be for Christmas day, my own little family and start to my future. We continued the rest of the day with a few drinks, watching English Television, a Wonderful Christmas meal with all of the home made trimmings and were in bed before I was even able to watch Easterners.

My Christmas day wasn’t in England, I didn’t have all my family around me, nor did I celebrate it 100% the same as I would usually. However, it was our Christmas, the first one my husband had ever celebrated, the first Christmas of many to come and a new start to a new routine. I didn’t miss Christmas in England, and going back just before allowed me to spend proper time with all my loved ones, time that we could go and do whatever we want, without the stress on their heads of so many things that needed organizing.

I really hope you all had a wonderful fun filled day and send you all lots of love and happiness.