Sunday, 22 December 2013

D.I.Y. Christmas

This Christmas marks a landmark in our family. My daughter has moved out into her own apartment and for the first time in 21 years we got the decorations box out of storage and had to divide up the goodies.  She thought I should keep the angels, as I started collecting them long before she was born and I thought she should have all the red tinsel and baubles as she is brighter and more outgoing than me and red suits her.  We don't have Christmas trees but have made do, as we always do in Turkey, with a twiggy branch sprayed white.  This year we sprayed two.
This divvying up of Christmas paraphernalia has given cause for reflection and as someone who has spent roughly half my adult Christmas celebrations in the UK and half in Turkey I feel it's time for some comparisons.  One obvious omission  here is the lack of Advent. We don't light a candle on the first Sunday in December and the weather is usually too sunny to even think of winter but having visited the UK at the end of October and walked around a garden centre where Santa and his grotto were already set up, this is a good thing.  I can measure the number of times I hear Noddy Holder belting out his Christmas money spinner on the fingers of two hands here, whereas I would probably need the fingers and toes of a whole primary school in England.  I can comfortably start contemplating seasonal food preparation in the third week of December in Turkey and I won't have to have sat through the mandatory work Xmas lunch in the first week of December. (Is there anything worse than the false jollity of wearing a paper cracker-hat in the company of your work colleagues, eating dry roast turkey, at least 3 weeks before the 25th?)

Felt Christmas trees - What better way to decorate the tree.
The best thing about Christmas in a country that doesn't celebrate the Nativity is that we do it ourselves. When I first came to Bodrum, there were no decorations available, but plenty of pine cones, white spray-paint and sequins. Add red ribbons, hand-cut wooden snowflakes and bells and we didn't miss our fairy lights and baubles.  With the eruption of New Year celebrations in Turkey recently, all manner of flickering lights, trinkets and gaudy sparkles are now available in the shops but it's still more fun to make your own.  My daughter and I had a "craft bag" that was much mocked by my friends, but gave us great pleasure as we made Christmas pom-poms, chains, cards and crackers that you had to shout "bang" when you pulled.  So I was really pleased to wander around the Xmas market in Bodrum last week and see that the next generation of ex-pat mums has gone one better than us and is making cakes, mince pies, decorations and crackers that actually bang  to sell to each other.  This has to be better than  mega-supermarkets and chain stores goading us to spend more and more to add to their already obscene profits.

Ekim-Turquoise Secrets' beautiful Christmas cakes and biscuits

Angie's mince pies


The bi fit girls' Christmas floor show



If you haven't got a fir tree, decorate the next best thing. 



30 comments:

  1. The Christmas tat here has to be seen to be believed....vast emporia selling junk from China...ghastly canned 'Christmas' music....your Bodrum experience sounds one heck of a lot better.
    I'm just looking forward to closing the gates and having a quiet time at home.

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  2. Great to see you being as inventive as ever. With the lads back for Xmas we don't have room for a tree in our tiny terraced house so I've decorated our dracaena palm plant with some tiny baubles, battery LED lights and a string of gold beads! That's our xmas sorted!!

    Happy Xmas to you, Teo & Esi from all of us (K, D, G & O) xxxx

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    1. Lovely to have them both back I'm sure.

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  3. B to B, I particularly liked the floor show. I have always liked being in Turkey because I didn't have to listen to the terrible same Christmas music I've heard ad nauseum. But times have changed. Last week, I heard "Jingle Bell Rock" in Eminönü. O dear.

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    1. I shopped today without hearing any Christmas music which was a bit of a surprise.

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  4. I don't miss the commercialised build-up in the UK at all which starts earlier every year it seems. I have memories of the first Christmas here when my husband went searching for a Christmas tree for me, attempted to dig it up but the roots were too deep so he came home with a branch. I have a special candle, never lit, which belonged to my father that comes out every year, but the rest of my collection of decorations are now used by my daughter. Apart from a couple of Christmases in Cappdocia where the atmosphere was perfect, I don't really bother now.

    Have a lovely Christmas Annie and very best wishes for the New Year xxx

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    1. I like the fact that there is no pressure to feel Christmassy here.

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    2. I also like the no-pressure aspect too. The fact that the shops are open all the time so no last minute panic shopping and that in fact you make it what you like! My daughter who has now moved to the UK and who came home ie here for Christmas, also said the same. She said how she saw that it is all so very pressurized over there and people spend too much. I am happy with our Christmas here!!

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    3. Christmas in the UK is frenzied - for at least a month before going shopping is an unpleasant experience

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  5. I look out of the window (as I do every morning) and say 'Oh, no! Not another beautiful day unspoilt by meaningless baubles in the trees!' Have a good one, by the way.

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    1. I as just thinking how festive the oranges look in the neighbour's trees.

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  6. Love the sound of shouting "bang" when pulling crackers!! Much more fun :-) Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and I hope 2014 is your best year yet x

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    1. I invested in some of the "banging" hand-made ones at the market.

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  7. Annie, what a beautiful post; it really cheered me up. Doguhan isnt even 2 yet but I look forward with great anticipation for our homemade Christmases to come. I really really enjoyed this post. Wishing you and your family a magical Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year x

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    1. You will have lots of fun making your own Christmas traditions.

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  8. Love the decorations on the table....especially the owl. Great idea for the felt tree decorations, might make some myself for next year.
    So cute with the crackers..."bang"...your are so creative.

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  9. My oldest will be leaving the nest before next Christmas... your description of splitting the decorations hit me where it hurt :-) Have a lovely Christmas, Annie xxxx

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    1. At least mine lives quite close so she'll be back for Christmas dinner

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  10. Norwich is looking very festive and much better than last year. Despite this, Christmas will be a subdued as, once again, we separate for Christmas Day. Alas, it is the way with family commitments. You must have mixed emotions about Esi moving out. It's a big step.

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  11. I love the felt decorations too! And felt was so easy to come by in Istanbul! Also, I enjoyed our expat Christmas markets we held there too. Handmade items are much better! This year, I found some darling gingerbread cut-out Christmas decorations here in Warsaw. Lucky for me, the Poles celebrate Christmas like crazy! :-)

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Annie!

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    1. I bet you've made some lovely Xmas goodies too.

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  12. Loved your home made Christmas, they are always much special and close to heart; so lovely that you keep the traditions alive : ) Kids counting down big time from our end and I must I am very excited too : ) Wishing you a lovely Christmas and a happy New Year! xx Ozlem

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    1. Your children are the best ages to enjoy Christmas - Enjoy!

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  13. I did enjoy this, Annie, and am glad to say that we and our offspring do still make some of our decorations. I'm with you in hating the every-earlier arrival of all things Christmassy. I think I'll hibernate every December from now on. :-) Have a wonderful Christmas.

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    1. I'm glad you are still creating your own decorations.

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  14. Those felt Christmas trees are adorable. Making your decorations was a gift as well. I know you and your daughter had more fun making your decorations and spending that quality time together. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Making is so much more fun than buying.

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