CHRISTMAS in the Afghan capital Kabul is a low-key affair, but the Hassan family have embraced the day in their adopted Newcastle.
The five children of Ghulam and Hakima Hassan, of Mayfield, wore bright paper hats and brought their best manners to the Samaritans’ Christmas lunch on the Newcastle foreshore.
‘‘This is our second Christmas,’’ said Mr Hassan, who secured residency for his family in 2012.
Eighteen-month-old Ali had trouble with his hat getting soggy in the rain, but had help from twin sisters Zena and Zora, five.
Mr Hassan planned to cook kebabs later on a barbecue in the park.
Teresa Gourlay, of Eleebana, had assembled her brother Chris, new flatmate Dii Finley and friends Kristy Rendle and Glenn Pinfold. It was the first time any of them had been to the Samaritans’ lunch.
‘‘I’ve had a bit of a tough year financially and this is the first time I’ve been able to get everyone together for Christmas for years,’’ said Ms Gourlay who recently underwent an operation for a brain tumour.
Ms Rendle pulled a bonbon to reveal a cheesy joke inside. The table groaned, collectively, while people in line for meals chatted and shook hands and wished each other merry Christmas.
More than a tonne of food is served at the annual lunch, held in the foreshore rail sheds. About 800 people attend.
The diners come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and circumstances. Some can’t afford Christmas lunch, and others don’t want to spend it alone.
Far from giving up their day, many volunteers said it was the best part.
‘‘It’s a nice thing to do on Christmas,’’ Mel Llewelyn, 72, said. This was his fifth year in a row volunteering.
Alyce McKeough, 27, said taking part helped her remember what Christmas was about.
‘‘You can get up on Christmas and sit at home and eat. Or you can come and help.’’