Deck the halls with boughs of holly (…) ‘Tis the season to be jolly… who would not know this golden oldie Christmas carol, or at least a few of its most famous lines. And it perfectly serves for the purposes of introducing today’s topic, too: shall we happy overseas folk celebrate the festive season amongst our expatriate community here in town or head back to where we originally hailed from?

Granted, many of our readers may say that all things Santa never really meant that much to them whilst others would consider themselves as true Jingle Bells aficionados. To put it another way: it is purely a matter of personal taste and choice, respectively.

If Christmas would be nothing special few would write or talk about it in the media or in public but it seems it never loses its attraction, its flair and up to a certain context even its controversy. Have we not all heard about families so sadly splitting up exactly over Boxing Day? Do we not know someone who so unfairly complained about the same type of unwanted presents repeatedly handed over year after year? And have we not witnessed children rather outspokenly voicing resentment about wearing their Sunday Best for two to three days in a row as countless visiting relatives would expect nothing less?

Who would have thought that what is supposedly the merriest time of each passing year can thus lead to unexpected consequences?

But this last column for 2018 aims at setting a different mood, is written with a completely different focus: we should not give in to nay-sayers and – just this once – do something completely politically incorrect by suggesting we indulge: we should be celebrating Christmas and the New Year in splendor! In a world with far too many places gone mad we simply need an extended period of time to recharge our batteries, to rediscover the good old values of joy and happiness yet at the same instant pause a moment to remember those loved and dearly missed ones who have already taken up residency in higher up heavens.

All things considered, including the totally inappropriate question of whether I ‘love’ a present as not the present as such but the gesture of giving it is important, your friendly columnist probably belongs to the Santa fan club no matter where. Which nicely brings me to Kusadasi and our shared southern Aegean region where our newspaper is widely read and consulted – in case you opt to stay put: give it a go, and you shall see how wonderful Christmas spent under palm trees can actually be.

Firstly, in case you wondered and should you wish to decorate your home you need not worry. Our Turkish friends and neighbors celebrate New Year’s Eve in as festive a manner as we would celebrate Yuletide – and December 31 of course – and thus matching items and materials including trees (fake or real) can easily be sourced.

Secondly, many of our fine restaurants offer special festive season menus but be prepared to book well in advance as they have become extremely popular with many expats regularly taking advantage of these offers.

Thirdly, finding a present however big or small does not need far-away travels as we have fantastic shops right here in town. As a matter of fact we will come across quite a variety of products which would not be sold anywhere back home which in turn make for that very unique Kusadasi inspired gift.

Moreover, chances are that we might embark on a long walk marveling at the seas and blue waters, of course weather permitting. For instance, my family spent more Christmas’s under perhaps somewhat windy but nevertheless perfect blue skies than one can imagine, outdoor meals included even if supported by an infrared heating system or wind absorbing plastic windows to one or more sides.

Then again and from time to time who would not wish to visit our original homes during the festive season, meet neighbors who did not follow in our globetrotter footsteps or simply hang around in places familiar to us since childhood. This article was not intended to stop you from traveling back and forth – it was more of a reminder that where we are at the moment celebrating Christmas can be as joyous as anywhere else.

Per conclusion there is one more factor inherent in all things Santa whilst living abroad. Have you ever considered putting on the apron and bake some Christmas cookies? No; not simply for yourselves but to prepare a few nice little boxes and hand them over to friends and neighbors around here? That would most naturally include Turkish citizens and fellow expats!

Me and my family learned a lot about Turkish customs and traditions from helpful and so welcoming Turkish neighbors. Why not give something back in return and Christmas could prove to be the best such time of year imaginable.

In any case and wherever you spend the next weeks until ringing in a new year: may I thank you from the heart for your interest in my modest remarks and observations. Having said that it is a real pleasure contributing to The Ege Eye – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019!

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