So I’ve been back stateside for a while, but Turkey has remained in my heart and on my mind. Though, I will say, this holiday season I was extremely excited to be in the Land of Unrestrained Holiday Excitement, and for the first time in years, I was secretly psyched when I heard the first holiday song of the season… in October.
As the weather got (slightly) cooler, I became progressively more excited. I moved into my new apartment on December 1, we had a Christmas tree before we had a shower curtain. At my new job I got to know my colleagues through the typical series of holiday events. First our lunch where we had a Secret Santa (I got a wine glass), and then at our holiday party at our department head’s home. All the lights and wine and cheesy foods had me quite in the mood.
Then over wine one ehem afternoon ehem at work… (are you sensing a pattern?) I learned the depth of one colleague’s hatred for Santa Claus. I had thought it strange that she had a “Le Père Noel est une Ordure” film poster on her door… in September (loose film name translation: Santa Claus Sucks). Everyone had alluded to how this fun, young, happy colleague harbored a deep seated hatred for Father Christmas. I thought back to my classes last year in Turkey, where I spent time explaining our celebrations to my students. One group of students was appalled when I told them Christmas was indeed a Christian holiday. The horror!
“No, my teacher.” they responded, “this is not true, we have Christmas.”
“No,” I would respond, “you have New Year.”
“Yes, that’s what we said, Christmas.”
We went in this circle for a few minutes until I realized that they had co-opted our Christmas celebrations for their New Year. It all had made sense. This was why Santa Claus and his holiday village had appeared the week leading up to the New Year outside the Carrefour in our Maxi Center.
So the last day before breaking for Christmas, we all sat around my desk sipping wine when she started up about Santa. “It’s a cultural conspiracy to brainwash our youth, and not just about the holiday, which should be about the birth of a religious figure, but also about physics. We mislead children into believing the impossible. No person could possibly visit every Christian child’s house in one night. And what about the kids that get nothing, because their parents can’t afford it. Is that fair? We give them a complex. Even the news teams are in on it, tracking Santa as he flies across the globe.”
Well, I thought, she is the real deal. We tried for a while to get her to confess to some traumatic experience with a shopping mall Santa, or divulge what exactly it was that made her come to the traumatic realization that Santa does not, in fact, exist. But, to no avail, she wouldn’t give it up. I went home from work that day laughing to myself about this hatred to find this article sitting in my inbox, forwarded by a glorious friend:
Thank you SO MUCH Hurriyet for continuing to be a beacon of journalistic integrity and the epitome of quality in reporting. Without you, I would have never found the only person in the world who harbors a hatred of Santa as deep and as firm as that of my colleague. I particularly enjoyed this bit: