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Still Can’t Believe He’s Gone: This Christmas Will Be Our 455th Without Suleiman The Magnificent

People mostly think of the holidays as a joyful time, but they can also be painful reminders of those who have left us, and this upcoming season is going to be particularly hard for us to get through: This Christmas will be our 455th without Suleiman the Magnificent.

Damn. It still doesn’t feel real sometimes.

As excited as we are to spend this Christmas with those closest to us, the holiday just hasn’t felt the same since Suleiman the Magnificent succumbed to illness in his tent during the Ottoman Empire’s 1566 siege of Szigetvár in Hungary. Something about looking at the little stockings hung up over the fireplace and seeing the empty space where there should be a big fluffy green one for Suleiman the Magnificent just instantly undoes all the centuries we’ve had to process our grief. We haven’t been able to bring ourselves to take out the oversized Santa hat Suleiman the Magnificent used to put on over his turban during present opening, but we also can’t bear the thought of getting rid of it either. Even 455 years later, it’s still raw for us.

As hard as we know the day itself will be, the entire Christmas season is an emotional minefield. We just know we’re going to see a nice stand mixer while out holiday shopping and absentmindedly think “That would be a perfect gift for Suleiman the Magnificent” before breaking down right there in the middle of the kitchen supply store. Hearing “Deck The Halls” play on the radio will stir up bittersweet memories of how Suleiman the Magnificent would always sing along in his rich, velvety baritone whenever the carol came on during one of his naval campaigns against the Portuguese for control of trade with the Mughal Empire. Hell, even just seeing eggnog at the grocery store will render us inconsolable as we remember the time Suleiman the Magnificent got so loaded on the stuff that he accidentally called his Circassian concubine by the name of his Ruthenian concubine and spent the next hour hiding in the bathroom in embarrassment.

How can we be joyful when everywhere there are so many little reminders of Suleiman the Magnificent?

We’re all hoping to avoid a repeat of last year when Mom asked when we’d be having some maple-pecan pie, only to remember that Suleiman the Magnificent had always been the one to bake them. Even in a best-case scenario, it’s all but inevitable that our four-year-old niece will ask “Where’s Suleiman the Magnificent?” at some point during the proceedings, meaning someone will have to gently explain to her that Suleiman the Magnificent’s body was transported back to Istanbul for burial at Süleymaniye Mosque while several of his internal organs were buried near Szigetvár at Turbék. And as awful as it sounds to say, we’re almost relieved that Grandma passed away this February—the thought of her dementia making her have to learn over and over that Suleiman the Magnificent’s 1566 death presaged an extended era of Ottoman decline is simply more than we could bear.

God, Christmas just isn’t the same without him.

You really just never know what you have until it’s gone. We’re still going to try to enjoy this Christmas as best as we can, but it’ll never quite feel right without Suleiman the Magnificent there to celebrate with us. RIP, Suleiman the Magnificent. We love you so very much.