Helen sought asylum in the UK from Ethiopia and blogs regularly at http://diaryofarefugeemother.wordpress.com. This is her last entry, about Christmas.
For the last five years a group of us has spent Christmas all together, travelling to my friend’s house on Christmas Eve and staying the night in North London with all the children. It is such a fun day and the children run around and are so excited. On Christmas day we cook together and make coffee for the Ethiopian traditional coffee ritual in which the unprocessed green beans are roasted, and then hand ground and served with beautiful flowers all around. It is a very important part of our tradition and even more so at Christmas and the whole thing can take two to three hours. We all sit on cushions on the floor and talk and chat and presents are given out. The adults all receive one present each but the children receive presents from everyone. We have traditional Ethiopian chicken dishes, but also we have English minced pies and mulled wine.
My four year old has just started to understand what Christmas means because yesterday when we came out of the tube when I was collecting my allowance in Hammersmith there was a great big Christmas tree and he wanted to just stand and look at the beautiful lights for ages. It made him feel excited for the thing that was coming and he has been talking about it ever since. Sometimes I feel sad because my friends are always so generous to me and the children and I have so little money that either I can’t give them anything or I have to find very cheap presents from the pound shop. And Christmas also makes me sad because it reminds me that another year has passed and I am still unsettled and I have been waiting for leave to remain in the UK for nine years.