Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas...what does it mean to you?

It's that time of the year again.  Just a week to go.   I was about to write about what Christmas means to me, when I recalled that I've done this before, and really my feelings haven't changed since I posted the following on this blog two years ago:

"I've been asking myself this question today.

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 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'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"

Christmas this year, like others before, will be just another day for us.  But for those of you celebrating Christmas, I wish you a happy time surrounded by the important people in your life.

The day I'm most  looking forward to is the 27th December, when it's all over, and I'll be setting off to England to share some time with those important people in my life.


  1. I feel exactly the same as you do about Christmas! I'm not religous either but I do enjoy the fact that Chris and I get the chance to spend some time together. We have our own wee traditions and I am really looking forward to spending the day cooking, eating and laughing with my lovely husband. All the rest of it doesn't interest me and I hate the fact that it seems to be all about the gifts and people feel pressure to spend more than they have!

    C x

  2. Hi Carol: Enjoy the special time with your husband. People we love are more important than gifts aren't they? xx

  3. Thank you for your wishes of "a happy time surrounded by the important people in your life" as that is just what will be happening in my life as I celebrate Christ's Birth Day!

  4. I hope you have a very enjoyable time Theanne xxx

  5. Thank you for your wishes 'happy time surrounded by the important people in your life." and the same to you......

    Same here when we were growing up we didn't get those huge elaborate toys.....but as the years went by we did. I can see in my two brother's kids.....they use to spend an absolute fortune or all these techy being adults they expect the same.....they ask for exoensive stuff :-( Now I see my neighbour....what does a 7 year old need the latest IPad for, he has the latest IPhone and whatever else is on the market....and he just doesn't appreciate nothing.He's going to run around the streets with that IPad till he cracks it.

    When I first got married and it was DH's first Christmas as he never had one b/c this was his first time living in Toronto....and him being from Izmir. Well now 25 years later...he's more into it then me. We are not buying each other gifts or for our daughter this year.....we are spending Christmas for a few days at Niagara Falls (which is 1 hour away by car)on the USA side.....b/c they have great sales in the malls. So this way we can buy what we really need. For my family members we just get them gift cards.
    But before we go on Boxing day I will have the tradional Christmas dinner at home just my husband and daughter as I have never missed one yet.
    Also being of Ukrainian background (never been there yet) we have another Christmas on Jan. 7th. This I celebrate more for religion and then my family comes over for dinner.

    The Turks here all seem to celebrate Christmas with the gifts and turkey dinners...I guess it is so commercial here with ads and all that they just got use to it after so many years....and celebrate with no real meaning.

    Sorry to take over her, but I better stop before it becomes a novel .:-)

    ....have a great Sunday and enjoy the day.

  6. Erica...don't ever apologise for "taking over"...I enjoy reading your comments. I do think you're right about kids today expecting too much. They have no sense of values.

    It sounds like you will be having a good time this Christmas. I like the sound of visiting Niagara Falls...and the sales!

    Have a lovely time xx

  7. What does Christmas mean to me? The birth of Christ and the joy of family life. DH and I have always steadfastly refused to overspend at Christmas and daughter is the same, though son is rather more likely to buy the latest toy for his very precious one-and-only child.

    For many years when I was in active ministry, Christmas was a very busy time for me, with a lot of extra services. Lovely as they were, it was always great to get home after the last of them and enjoy Christmas dinner, late though it might be.

  8. Perpetua, I can certainly relate to the joy of family life being a big part of always was for me. There's the other side of the coin though. There seems to be this image portrayed by the media and advertising in particular of Christmas being all about family, but it can be the most awful time for those people without families. The elderly, the homeless for example.

  9. Children seem to expect far too much.
    It seems that the vast majority of people regard Christmas as a ridiculous spending * eating spree.
    This gets many into debt.
    If I can't afford to pay for something outright, then I don't get it.

    I really think for me Christmas is about faith and all the connected traditions etc.
    Friends and family and being together are very important to me too.
    Somehow, it all seems more meaningful this year after all we've been through.
    I can understand your excitement about the 27th though. Wishing you a very happy time wherever you are.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  10. Ayak, that's the problem about Christmas being cut loose from its religious roots nowadays. It becomes ALL about family life, instead of only partly about it and that, as you rightly point out, is so hard on those without families or whose families aren't happy ones.

  11. Well, I guess you know I (Hilary) am largely in agreement. I don't think it's possible to emphasize too strongly my respect for those for whom the festival has religious significance. Nor would I want to underestimate the pleasure of being with family.
    My issue is with the commercialisation of the festival - so many people do feel compelled to spend more than they can afford. So many people do feel horribly excluded.

  12. When I was young in Scotland, Christmas Day was not recocgnised as a we did not do the tree, the presents, the whatever.
    For me however, Christmas is the birth of hope in a dirty world...we may not win in our life time but we can fight for the future.

  13. Maggie: Spending what you can't afford only causes misery...and there will be thousands of miserable people in January. I can imagine how important this Christmas will be for you after everything that's happened. Enjoy it and I wish happiness and good health for you and Harry for 2012 xxx

    Perpetua: Yes that's what really bothers me.

    Hilary: It was your post that prompted me to drag out my old one. I too have the utmost respect for those people who have religious faith because I have seen how comforting it can be. But like you I hate the way it has all become far too commercialised. It also makes me feel very sad to see people feeling excluded from anything but Christmas time can be particularly harsh for many.

    Fly: Your last sentence says it all for me. We should never give up the hope that things will change.


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