There’s nothing like a good Şeker Bayram to raise one’s foul mood. I had been down in the dumps for a few days. Şeker Bayram, the three day holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan arrived on Tuesday evening. A three day holiday in the middle of the week quickly turned into a 9-day holiday for most. And it provided loving warmth and a few good laughs for me (for the most part)!
Here are a few snippets from my bittersweet holiday:
- Friday evening was shared with friends at the local pastane. As I enjoyed meeting a local novelist and sharing tea, a young man ran by with a cart. He stopped a few doors down and I could see that his cart was full of freshly baked and steaming hot pide. A few from the table jumped up to buy the bread. Within minutes, the owner of the pastane came out of her shop with cheese. The next thing I knew, friends and neighbors of the pastane were having a make-shift bayram dinner of hot bread and cheese! Really a good time!
- On a return visit to the pastane later that evening, most of the regulars were still sitting in their same seats. On the eve of the holiday weekend, I came to learn that many of my friends consider themselves atheists. I had to wonder, was this holiday more like Christmas where the non-Christians love to partake in the holiday traditions?
- Tuesday morning – road trip to Aksaray to visit extended family. The trip started off on a bad note. I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t get enough sleep. Aksaray was the last place I wanted to be. But as I entered grandmother’s house, everything started to change. Food, family, and of course, more food!
- We saw and visited lots of family members. My husband and I slid lira to the kids as they enjoyed their chocolates and other sweets. One of the kids, surprised by the money, turned to his parents protesting, “I didn’t ask for it!”
- Our one-year-old cousin finally strayed from his mommy. At first it was accidental. He unknowingly held my hand for a few moments. His mother was standing behind him, so the mistake was reasonable. But by the end of the night, he allowed me to not only remove him from a car seat, but also carry him up 4 flights of stairs to an uncle’s home. That’s my boy!
- We went to the village where my father-in-law was born. It turns out we have several members on both sides of the family from this village. The village was very old with dilapidated stone houses. But I loved it! I loved that people said hello while passing in the streets. I loved getting to meet family for the first time – my “Kaymak roots” – including a few with whom I was able to more fully communicate in German. I especially loved the smile on my father-in-law’s face that lasted all day! And I loved that I was in the place that is a part of the larger town where my marriage is registered.
- I visited Grandfather Kaymak’s grave while in the village. Cultural differences and similarities of cemeteries have always been very interesting to me.
- I got to meet the newest member of the family, baby Zeynep. She is a real beauty at less than 2 weeks old! Hoşgeldin Zeynep!
- The hubby and I spent a lovely afternoon at Ihlara Valley. We didn’t take the time to hike through it, mostly because I didn’t wear the right shoes. But we took in the fresh air and beautiful scenery while sitting on an overlooking wall. These were precious moments together.
- Time, food, and laughs were shared with my brother-in-law. Bayram made me realize that I really do enjoy spending time with him and his wife.
- I felt like part of the family as I shared a private moment with an uncle who is going through a terrible time. We are able to communicate with each other in German, which is a pleasure to me since my communications with the rest of the family are mostly limited to “hello” and “how are you”.
- I was verbally abused by a 7-year-old family member when he was told that I am from America. He literally pointed down the street and yelled “Git!” Not sure from where or whom he is learning this and the rest of his really bad behavior. But it did provide some insight, at least, of how children are dealt with here. I’m hoping to get him alone in my neck of the woods one day . . .
- My hand was kissed for the third time since landing in Turkey and second time during this Bayram. Kissing the hand and putting it to your forehead is a sign of respect reserved for one’s elders. This time was a faux pas. Upon meeting my father-in-law’s younger sister for the first time, she immediately grabbed my hand to kiss it. I guess there were a lot of people around causing some confusion and she didn’t realize who I was. I am pretty sure she thought I was my mother-in-law. (In her defense, M-I-L and I do look like we could be sisters.)
- I gracefully endured (mostly) the poking and prodding and questioning of whether I was pregnant yet. Had we visited a doctor yet? And this came just days after tears were spilt remembering last year’s bayram miscarriage.
- I saw the ugliest furnishings in an apartment that I have ever seen! I would love to share photos, but I just can’t do it. Black and white and red and silver and plastic and scrolls and 1″ fake diamond buttons, and shall I go on? Let me just say that I would have taken any of those dilapidated houses from the village in a heartbeat over this new modern one! And they drove all the way to Ankara for that furniture!! Talk about different tastes. It’s still providing quite a laugh a day later.
- At every house I visited I was attacked with baklava and candy. We were even served full meals at a few homes even though we came without notice. I got my year’s share of stuffed grape leaves and stuffed peppers. No need for anyone to make them for me until next year’s Şeker Bayram !