Saturday, 12 December 2009
What does Christmas mean to you?
The conclusion I reached is that my feelings about Christmas have changed a fair bit over the years.
When I was a child my parents didn't have a lot of money but my brothers and I always had a stocking containing chocolate money and a sugar mouse, small games and the obligatory orange. We also had a pillowcase each with a couple of larger toys. I don't think my parents had enough money to go out and pay cash for these toys. I think they were ordered from catalogues and paid for weekly for months after Christmas was over.
Children love Christmas of course. When my children were small I could afford to buy them much more than I had when I was a child. Subsequent generations of children have even more money spent on them. They seem to expect it...take it for granted...that they will get all the latest toys and games.
We now have a world recession, but children will still expect...and probably receive...everything they desire, even if it means parents getting into debt to do it.
Being an agnostic, it's easy for me to ignore Christmas. What I really mean is that I can ignore the meaning of Christmas. Because it is a religious festival after all isn't it? Or is it just about giving and receiving presents, and eating and drinking too much and spending more money than we can afford? Well that's the impression one gets from watching UK TV adverts. For weeks now it's all been about brainwashing viewers into believing that they have to buy an excessive amount of food and gifts.
In the 11 years that I have lived in Turkey I've only spent Christmas in the UK on a couple of occasions when I have been caught up in this commercialised event and it's cost me much more than I can afford.
I'm not a "scrooge".....anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not! I love to give presents...but somehow they are appreciated much more at other times of the year. People have too much of everything at Christmas. Apart from a couple of Christmases here when I have been reluctantly forced into celebrating with groups of ex-pats (not to be recommended), I haven't bothered about it...it's just another day.
When I spent my first Christmas here with Mr Ayak, I thought I would attempt to make it like Christmas in England....but I failed miserably. I couldn't find a turkey so we had lamb. No christmas pudding or mince pies. No christmas tree or decorations. Christmas cards had been posted to me from England but the post was erratic so they didn't arrive until January. And it was strange to see people heading off to work and children going to school. It just didn't work.
For those who believe that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, it's an important time. There's no reason at all why those who don't believe shouldn't enjoy Christmas as a holiday and a time to get together with family and friends. But I somehow think that the emphasis should be more on enjoying the company of the people around you...and you don't need to get into debt to do that.
I have two English friends who live in Antalya, coming up next Saturday and they will be staying with me for two weeks. This covers the Christmas and New Year period. But they haven't acknowledged Christmas for 25 years. So we won't be celebrating it. But we will get a great deal of pleasure from spending time together...and that's what's really important.