It's our second Christmas here in Turkey. Our first one was a haze of jet-lag, a flood of culture shock, and a sprinkling of what the hell have we done. But THIS year has been different. And wonderful. And so not what you'd think Christmas in a country like Turkey would be.
First off, the New Year is celebrated here with much of the same decorations you'd find at Christmas - minus the nativities of course.
We can even find Santas if we look closely enough... although this guy was hard to miss:
Speaking of Santas, Micah is not a huge fan. The smile in the picture above is a bit on the edge. Max and Clara, however, are still huge fans. We got to see plenty of Santas at different events here.
At our U.S. Military Christmas Party:
At the Ambassador's Christmas party:
Micah was hiding behind the Christmas tree where apparently certain unmentionable deeds were occuring:
Christmas is also the season for SONG. What would Christmas be without the carols? And thanks to my wonderful Ankara A'Cappella, I got plenty of it! From Silent Night to Up On the Housetop... we covered it all. Singing loud for all to hear IS the best way to spread Christmas cheer. Değil mi?
We sang at the Vatican Church, the U.S. Ambassador's Residence, the British Ambassador's Residence, and the Anglican Church. Well, they sang... I played the piano.
The Anglican Church was my favorite venue... mainly because a lovely seeing-eye dog sat next to the piano and farted the entire time. Audibly. It wasn't such a "silent night."
After singing comes the baking. And I sang as I baked and baked and baked.
I made 2 zillion cookies - for raffles, silent auctions, cookie exchanges, embassy gifts, party gifts, and a few to let my poor children eat.
I made some cakes for various events too:
Driving this snowman intact to it's destination in Turkish traffic was our First Christmas Miracle.
A cake for an artist friend:
I had a wonderful opportunity to teach a gingerbread class. I'm telling you, our apartment smelled like a gingerbread heaven for weeks.
And a cake for the cutest 3 year old birthday boy in the world:
My little man loves all thing Batman (and Hulk, and Ironman, and Superman) so Christmas and his birthday were very exciting for him!
His school also had a birthday celebration with much singing and dancing. I contributed the Batman cookies.
Other than birthday parties, December in Turkey was a month of many grown-up parties, per our normal.
Good thing K had a snazzy sweater to wear. It was an early Christmas present from me because I'm the best and nobody beats me.
He got a lot of use out of that sweater! And as my friend Rachel would say - "and you thought the towel was terrible!"
My wonderful friends representing the world - those who do and even those who don't celebrate Christmas still enjoy the spirit of it all. I love these ladies.
Let's not forget the various school performances and parties:
Sadly, not everything was merry and bright. Our sweet birdie Şeker died. It was quite sad.
He will be missed by all.
Thankfully we had Bernie our elf visiting this year again to cheer us up and make us laugh. I'm glad he had an atlas and could find Turkey!
And then our favorite day/night of the year - Christmas Eve - arrived. No parties, no entertaining, just 100% just this crazy, t-shirt coordinating, dorky game playing, family, together. We watched movies, ate ribs and cheesecake, played a game or two, fed the reindeers, opened our PJs, and then laid in bed trying to sleep despite our anticipation of the morning.
So, this was our December in Turkey. It totally rocked.