Holiday Season – Jingle Bells Spirit or Just a Camouflage?

This holiday season is one of the best ones I have ever had. I started a new job a few months ago. I am doing my MA. Ankara is very cold, but snowy, which makes the holiday magic unavoidable. I feel as if I am in a movie, but there are no bad guys and no complicated plot. The holiday season also helps this sentiment. On the 11th of December, Muslims around the world marked the birthday of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). On 25th of December, Catholics celebrated Christmas. New Year’s eve is celebrated by virtually everyone around the world, uniting people in celebration of a new beginning. On the 7th of January Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas. So many holidays and celebration everywhere fills the air with positive energy, and warm cookies fill it with amazing scents of cinnamon and vanilla that make me rejoice in happiness.

Whenever I feel like I am been blessed in my life, like everything is under control and I feel happy and satisfied, I get an urge that I cannot resist telling myself I have to give some of it back. In the end, to some extent, I do believe in karma. If the universe is sending you happiness, spread it around – it does not cost you anything.

Although, sometimes it feels like nobody is kind anymore. Whether it’s a person that parked their car in a way that makes it impossible for you to take your car out, a random person that shoved you to the side in the street for no apparent reason, or a teacher that never cleans the board before you enter making you feel like their personal assistant – everyone seems stressed and inconsiderate of other people. And let’s not even start on social media – mean commenters, people putting you down even though they never met you… Crazy, right? However, I would like to strongly insist that not everything is what it seems.

Holiday Season - Bilkent University

Holiday Season – Bilkent University

This holiday season, I believe the first thing we should do is try to see the goodness around us. This may seem easier said than done, but it is a psychological fact that the more attention we pay to something, the more of it we see. It is a strange occurrence that happens once you learn a good word – all of a sudden you start hearing it everywhere. So try paying more attention to the goodness around you. This may be hard at first, but really, kindness is everywhere. It may be a person that picks up trash from the street and throws it in the bin, or someone giving hand to an older person crossing the street. Next, take them as an example. You do it too if you hadn’t been already. The world needs positive energy.

I really believe I should not tell you why this past year has been incredibly hard for many people. As I live in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, I had a front seat in the terror attacks Turkey witnessed this past year. Very often, terrorists‘ targets were streets that people and I often visit. Living in circumstances like this is very hard and stressful, and yet we persist. I have no intention of moving anytime soon, simply because I do not want to be running from the prospect of war my whole life. For reference, I was born in a culmination of what one war can create, marking the first few years of my life. I refuse to let it mark anymore. So I invite you all to give a minute of your thoughts and prayers in dignity for victims of terror attacks all over the world, from Istanbul, Berlin, Nice, Paris, and my beloved Ankara.

Citizens of Hope Project –

However, I also believe that people like me are not the heroes of this story. The ones that I believe deserve our attention the most are the refugees, people that stayed without anything and anyone, and set off to the world with hope of a better tomorrow, taking way to Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, Macedonia and many other countries, relying on the hospitality of the populations of these countries and their citizens to keep them alive. So consider this a thank you note for everyone that has contributed to keeping innocent people alive and warm this past year.

My family and I were in their skin not so long ago, so I can easily empathize with them. However, I understand that this may be hard for some of you that never felt this on your own skin. Think about it this way – nobody would ever give up on their home, family warmth and homeland unless they have to. Nobody is looking forward to poverty and social stigma that waits in other countries. This holiday season, remember them and do something for them as well. It will make you feel good, and it will give you a head start on the good deeds for this year.

Happy holidays everyone, I hope you have a great year and a year filled with love, positive energy and success. If you are wondering what you should do for people around you, my friend Zeynep brought a huge box full of amazing homemade iced cookies to the university I work in just before New Year. Nibbling on them the whole day gave me a sugar rush that lasted for three days. When in doubt, make cookies. Trust me, your friends will appreciate.

Contributed by Emina Hasanagic

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