Ukrainians at home and abroad grip tightly to Christmas spirit amid Russian shelling

Tara Campbell Image
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Ukrainians grip tightly to Christmas spirit amid Russian shelling
Ukrainians grip tightly to Christmas spirit amid Russian shelling

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The sounds of a Ukrainian Christmas carol were sung by Yulia Zimmerman and her mother, Maria, who was brought to the Bay Area to escape the war.

"For her, it's been a joyful holiday still because she's been able to find her traditions as well," said Zimmermann, noting she and her mother have been cooking traditional Ukrainian meals and celebrating with friends.

Their hearts, however, are still with their homeland under siege. A Russian attack on Christmas Eve killed at least eight people in Kherson.

"That's just 40 minutes from our family home," said Zimmerman. "I don't know who can do this, you know. People can go to a supermarket dying from just rockets being shelled on the city."

MORE: Bay Area nonprofit collects holiday stockings filled with warm clothes for Ukraine

Roots of Peace is collecting warm clothes and energy bars to give to Ukrainians injured during the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a historic visit to Washington last week urging Congress to deliver more aid, presenting Speaker Pelosi with a Ukrainian flag with the signatures of soldiers.

"We pray for those in the trenches -- it's them," said Zimmermann. "They are heroes. It's because of them that Ukraine still stands."

And, standing in their hometown is a Christmas tree made of camouflage netting and other remnants of war.

MORE: Zelenskyy to Congress: US assistance is vital to defending against Russian invasion

"When I saw the tree in my hometown of Mykolaiv, I immediately thought of the resilience," said Zimmerman. "These people still have stretch and dedication to find the strength to celebrate something that's very important to celebrate."

As for Maria, Mykolaiv will always be home and she's hoping to return someday.

"She considers that town and that land her homeland," said Zimmermann. "She wants to be home but, of course, the peace needs to come first."

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