Often, my mind wanders quickly, from one idea to the next. I have entire conversations with others in my head. This morning was no different. The following thoughts occurred in approximately a 10 second flash in my brain:
As I sat on my balcony drinking my morning cup of joe, wanderings of Christmas popped into my head. So far, I have have not done much in honor of the holiday. Muslims do not celebrate Christmas – this I know. But last week I was with a group of Turkish women who talked about Christmas trees. Then yesterday I actually spotted one. It was in the store window of a hair salon. Small, but nicely done.
This evening I will attend a Christmas party hosted by the Foreign Wives club here in Ankara. I won’t know many of the group, but I’m certain it will be a good time. A gathering of about 50 women, mostly married to Turks, and many bottles of wine make nicely for an evening of merriment!
I asked a neighbor to come along with me. She is also American – not married to a Turk, but with some Turkish roots. She is unable to accompany me because she is singing with an acapella choir at a Christmas concert this evening. I am hoping to catch another of her concerts on Sunday.
Tomorrow I will go to a Christmas Bazaar at the British Embassy. I am more interested in getting behind the gates, just to see what the Embassy looks like. Most of the embassies are behind tall guarded walls. But the Bazaar should be nice too.
Back to the concert. I started to wonder about who is in the concert. How they got together. Whether there will be any instrumentals at the concert as well. And then it hit me – Christmas Past.
The best Christmas gift ever!
In the third grade, there was a band exhibition at my grade school, trying to get the kids to sign up for music lessons. I came home and asked Mom if I could play the drums. She said no, we couldn’t afford it. “Can I play the guitar?” No, we couldn’t afford a guitar either. “Can I play the piano?” Ok, ok, I was just a kid. Of course, we couldn’t afford a piano. The stubborn me told my mother she was going to get me a drum! I escaped without a whippin’.
So Mom signed me up for drum lessons. She bought me a small practice pad and there were drums at the school. (I stuck with it for 9 years).
By the time I hit the 5th grade, I had a bittersweet Christmas experience that still hasn’t left my little brain. It was a week or so before Christmas. One of my older sisters was vacuuming my mother’s bedroom. She called me to come running and I did. There, under the Mom’s bed, was what looked like a big blue suitcase. My sister pulled it out and opened it up. It was a drum case holding my first snare drum!! I was excited. We looked quickly and then tucked it back under the bed. Then I started to cry.
This was the best Christmas present ever. I knew we couldn’t afford it, even though it was used. But I cried anyway. I cried because my sister ruined Christmas. I never had a gift like this before. I doubt any of us did. We always got one outfit, and maybe one toy. I was often luckier than my siblings because I was at the bottom of the line. I often got gifts from some of them too. And still I cried. I now had to keep the secret so my sister wouldn’t get in trouble – or that would mean more trouble for me. And I would be disappointed on Christmas, not having any surprises. I have always loved surprises! I cried for days.
On Christmas morning, I rose early and found that drum under the tree. And then a Christmas miracle happened! I stopped crying. I set up my gently used snare drum and waited for the family to rise so I could play. My eyes wide. My heart sang. This present was the Holy of Holies! It still is.
Every year at Christmas, I still pull out that drum. I give it a place of honor by my Christmas tree and think of that Christmas past. And thoughts turn to the Little Drummer Boy, playing his heart out for the infant Jesus. This year, there is no drum. It is being safely kept for me by my nephew Erik. So far there is no tree. This is not unusual for me. I like to set it up closer to Christmas so it is new and shiny. Then I keep it up until the Epiphany, as is a true Christmas tradition.
This year, I will be in Germany for Christmas. But I am still thinking about getting a tree here in Ankara. Maybe I will do it next week when I get my best Christmas gift of the year. My sister is coming! Her visit will be the last leg of the holy trinity of gifts this year which included a visit from Mom and then one from another sister.
The glories of Christmas past never leave us. In fact, they compile into one beautiful life-long memory. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!