Turkey for Christmas

24 Dec

Dec. 24th, 7pm local time

Istanbul

The cafe we’re sitting in, called the Ocean’s 7, is populated by a hodge-podge of foreigners and Turks, talking loudly and eating from their steaming pots of tangine. The waiters are twentysomething Turkish men who are charmed by Finn and keep coming by to joke around with him. Patrick asks one of the men about the name of the restaurant. He explains that they, the seven bustling young men, are all brothers and when they opened the cafe, they played around with names until someone suggested Ocean’s 7 and it just fit. The tall man with the ponytail, who seems to be the oldest, says that people come into the cafe expecting George Clooney and Brad Pitt and he tell them “here I am!” The whole room laughs, the middle-aged woman with wild curly hair dining alone next to a wall covered in an Egyptian pharoanic print, the elderly German couple behind us who keep smiling at Finn. My loud burst of laughter startles Finn, who has had a long day, and he dissolves into breathless tears at Patrick shoves the bag of Cheerios in my direction.  The room is so narrow, it feels like we’re all eating together, a Christmas Eve meal with strangers who laugh at Finn’s faces and roll their eyes at the waiters teasing. One of the brothers stands outside, jumping up and down to keep warm as he invites passerby in to dine.

A few minutes later. I’m enjoying my fish caught fresh from the Bospheros and Patrick is digging into a lamb tagine that sits on a plate over a burning fire. A Turkish-looking women bursts into the cafe, the many pashminas around her neck flying every which way. She flits through the narrow room and stops abruptly when she spots Finn. Her face breaks into a huge smile and she shouts “Merry Christmas!” She hovers over our table and asks us where we’re from, how long we’ve been in Istanbul, and fires off questions about Finn before telling us about her niece who is around the same age. She tells us she is from France and then shouts “Merry Christmas!” again and is gone. We hear her at she makes her way towards the back of the room, greeting each table  “Merry Christmas!” “Merry Christmas!” In the silence that descends, Patrick and I start laughing again, sending Finn into another fit of hysteria.

We head back to our hotel and up to our room. It’s clear that this place is meant for hostelers. Our room is sparse and we have no hot water. Finn is hysterical and we realize that we’re past our hosteling phase and need to be comfortable. Patrick leaves and knocks door to door of hotels on our street, looking for a room. He finds one and we pack our bags and head up the street to a more comfortable room. Finn cuddles his lovey and falls asleep at Patrick and I get comfortable and settle in to read the Christmas story.

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6 Responses to “Turkey for Christmas”

  1. Nancy December 25, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    How cute that Patrick struck out on Christmas Eve to find room at an inn…very fitting 🙂

  2. Dre December 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    Wish we were there……….but wait! We just were! Please keep a firm grip on that baby – even as he’s stealing hearts, we don’t want someone stealing him.

  3. Donna Keusch December 28, 2008 at 12:55 am #

    Merry, Merry Christmas to all of you! We, too, are celebrating a “baby’s first Christmas”, as our son and daughter-in-law were blessed with a son on Nov 4th. He’s so cute! (no prejudice there). Would like to send you our Christmas ltr and a photo, but not sure of you e-mail. Please advise. It was great to see you this past summer. We wish you great blessings in the New Year! Matt & Donna

  4. Nancy December 30, 2008 at 11:02 pm #

    So, I’m a little slow. I just barely got the “Turkey for Christmas” title. I’ve been thinking, “But they didn’t have turkey…they had fish and lamb…”

    Uh-huh. That’s how slow I am. 🙂

    And I KNEW you were in Turkey, too. It just didn’t click I guess.

  5. Melissa DM December 31, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Congrats, Donna! That’s so great! Please send your Christmas letter, my e-mail is tangerinend on gmail. Happy New Year!

  6. aunt yvette December 31, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Happy New Year!

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