To celebrate this year’s seasonal holidays, we are sharing the stories of people’s first Christmas in the UK.
Whether they observe Christmas or not, these stories describe people’s first seasonal encounters in the UK, and the memories, gifts and experiences they had that made them feel welcome, and at home.
Anna tells us the story of her first gift
This little reindeer soft toy was my first Christmas gift back in 2010 when I had been in the UK for 11 months and still had not have my home office interview. I remember walking in the streets in December and envying all the people with big shopping bags and all the presents and happiness.
Yes Christmas was approaching but it did not mean anything to me, as I had no reason or even no money to celebrate it. I thought to myself, I wish I had some money, friends, family members, a home, a leave to remain, so I could be happy and celebrate my first Christmas.
I remember the same day I went to a community center that I was volunteering with feeding the homeless people, and I got to talk to a woman who was so excited about Christmas and kept asking me about my Christmas tree, and my plans for the holiday and etc. I do not know why, but I trusted her and shared my story with her. I explained to her what an asylum seeker is, what difficulties I had, why I am here, why I cannot work and why I do not feel celebrating my first Christmas at all. She did not say much just listened with sympathy.
The following week after our volunteering shift, she approached me with a red gift bag, and said Merry Christmas. I cannot even describe how happy I was. I had my first Christmas gift; I could not believe it.
In the bag there was this beautiful reindeer, a small box of Christmas candy cane, a small bag of chocolate coins (in the photo), and a beautiful candle. Yes, although it was not a very expensive Christmas present, but it was PERFECT as it gave me hope, and taught me a lesson of giving.
Since then, I have promised myself to pass on the kindness to other people. Every Christmas I buy some small gifts for some people who feel lonely and homesick. I know it means more than some gifts to them; it means HOPE.
If you have a Christmas story that you would like to tell us, please drop Elahe.Ziai@imix.org.uk a line.