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January 7

Dear Diary,
Father woke me this morning before the sun was up. “Rahel,” he said, “get up, it is time to go.” Everything was still and dark outside, but little lights from other houses showed me that our neighbors were also waking, because Christmas service starts at 4:00 a.m. I was very sleepy.

We dressed in our white shammas and walked to church. Our church is as round and thatched as the houses in our village, though a lot bigger and made of stone. Everyone was given a candle by the front door; we lit these and paraded three times around the outside of the church. It was wonderful to see so many faces glowing in the candle flames. Then we went inside. Mother and Hagos and I stood with the women, and Father took the boys with him to the men’s side. I did miss Merzeneb’s singing, though; she always had such a beautiful voice.

After mass, my parents stood and talked to a lot of people. My brothers promised their friends a game of genna later on, a kind of field hockey. It is funny, because Genna is also the word for Christmas. Why did they name both things the same, I wonder? Then the sun rose and we all went home.

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