Janesville48°

A Turkish Christmas Story

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Haley Drozdowicz
February 14, 2012

Alright, so before I get into the Christmas festivities that occurred here, Iím going to cover a few other things that happened so I can put all the Christmas events together. So first, during the third week of December, I went to Zumba for the first time. Itís not very popular here, and explaining what it was to my host mom was quite difficult, but those that know it, love it. There are free classes in a part of the town called GuzelbahÁe (translates into ďbeautiful gardenĒ) given Monday and Tuesday nights. Although it took me a while to get there using the bus system, I managed, and went with Morgan (Kentucky) and Maggie (Oregon) to my very first experience with Zumba. Cristina and Mariana were there too, which was fun. For those of you (women) who havenít tried it, I highly recommend it. The classes offered in the US probably donít have the Turkish songs mixed in, but Iím sure youíll still love it. Now, as you can gather from my last entry and this one, Iíve begun to fill my time after school with activity. Mondays and Tuesdays are now Zumba days or running days, Wednesdays are folklore dance classes, Thursdays are still belly dancing classes, and Fridays/weekends are left open for whatever plans happen to pop up. So thereís the first new thing that I wanted to share.

?The second thing is a bit more... theatrical. Perhaps youíll recall in one of my earlier blogs that my host momís best friendís sister is a professional actress. If I havenít mentioned it and Iím just imagining things... well now you know. Her name is Ceyhan GŲlÁek, and she invited her sister, my host mom, her friend, and me to go to the theater with her to see a Turkish play.... well I guess I should say a play in Turkish. Before the show started, I went with Ceyhan down to the dressing rooms and got to meet several of the actors. I got to go into the womenís dressing room as well to see what it was like. It was so cool to see a mixture of my two worlds, traveling and theater, come together like this. Plus, most of the actors were semi-famous, so I was also a bit starstruck. I obviously didnít really understand what was going on 95% of the time during the performance; as excellent as it was, the acting can only explain so much. During intermission, my host momís friend attempted to explain the plot to me thus far, but there was still a lot I didnít understand. But they said it was written by an American playwright, and after seeing 2 boys wearing blue and orange ďCís on their shirts and playing with a football, I had figured that much out for myself. It wasnít until I went home and googled the playwright that I found out I had just seen the Turkish version of ďDeath of a Salesman.Ē But after the show, I went back around to the dressing rooms with Ceyhan and took pictures with some of the actors as they came out. Pretty cool!!

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The last non-Christmas related event Iíll share is of a personally artistic nature. In my first few weeks here, I had been asked by my host momís hair dresser if I could draw a picture of him and his girlfriend. He never gave me a deadline for it though, nor did he give me a picture to draw, so I set it aside until the week before Christmas when he told my host mom he needed it the next weekend for his girlfriendís birthday. It was then that he specified which picture he wanted me to draw, so for several days, I worked on this project for him in class. Hereís the final result:

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Now that all of that is out of the way, Iíd like to tell you that I will not be explaining my Christmas adventures in great detail, nor will they be in paragraph form. Instead, Iíve decided to take a more... poetic... approach. Let me warn you in advance that it strays severely from the original poem after the first few stanzas, but thatís not the point. Anyways! Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to present my version of ďTwas the Night Before ChristmasĒ:

Twas 8 days before Christmas, and all through the town,

19 exchange students found themselves with not smiles, but frowns.

A stocking was hung in my room here with care

In hopes that somehow, Christmas would find me there.

*

But, with food in our stomachs, we stood on the street

with red hats on our heads to trap in the heat.

And though all those strangers could not understand,

We spread the sounds of Christmas as they clapped their hands.

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Though Iíd lost my dear voice, it was worth those few hours

when, just for a while, I felt the holiday power.

But our school was not out yet, as I must sadly say

but a small party we had, on the 23rd (a Friday).

*

A small tree, some small gifts, with a cup of hot cocoa

was all Michelle and I needed to make us go loco!

and also that day, more green trees laid waiting

for some wholesome assembly and our skills with decorating.

*

To work we went quickly, untangling and unhooking

and all of the while several teachers sat, looking.

Though humble our trees, we gave it our best

and managed to give our Holiday-itis a rest.

*

now Twas the morn before Christmas, but we couldnít sleep much

We had Turkish to learn, like nouns, verbs, and such.

But twas a party that night, so we all hurried home

to prepare for the most Turkish Christmas weíd ever known.

*

But before we could party, we went to a mass

there were so many people, we could hardly squeeze past

The priest spoke in tongues such as French and Italian

he prayed things in Turkish, and then some in Latin.

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So straight from the church, we ran off to get taxis

who drove so fast, I had to say, ďNot so fast, please!Ē

We walked to the restaurant, girls falling in their heels

like a newborn horse learning to walk might feel.

*

The table stretched so far, I thought it was growing

the dishes were so fancy, the cups were just glowing!

But before I go further, I feel I must say

that my host mom had joined me to share in that day.

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The food wasnít the normal, but who are we to complain!

We were just there to comfort each otherís homesickness and pain.

For to be far from your family, to be far from your home

on a day thatís so special, well, itís no good being alone.

*

Now, some weeks before this whole thing came about

We chose Secret Santas, and we picked some gifts out.

So on that cold night when we looked so very dapper

we unveiled who we bought for, and all got a bit happier.

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We also bought gifts for all our wonderful leaders,

Our Rotary committee, who made it possible to be here.

Then after, we danced, and then we danced more

to a lady singing with her guitar, she had talent galore!

*

Around 11 pm, our soirťe winded down,

we headed back to our homes spaced out all over town.

But before we could leave, we asked for one more thing

next thing you know, we were standing at the mic, caroling.

*

Twas the morning of Christmas, and I didnít feel merry.

I found a picture of my family that all day Iíd carry.

I ate brunch with some folks, then one by one we met up

till we got crowded at Starbucks, two tables werenít enough.

*

Later that day, we started heading back home

to Skype with our families, or at least call on the phone.

After an hourís bus ride, more crowded than ever

I spoke with my family, a very sad endeavor.

*

Happiness to see them, but sadness from distance,

I wanted to cry, but, somehow, I resisted.

All night, I sat pondering, and as I dozed off I thought,

ďMerry Christmas to all, whether Iím there or not.Ē

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