December 11, 2013
Christmas of course can evoke positive as well as traumatic memories, and it’s important to acknowledge both – the tricky part is how?
Christmas when I was a child was a mixed bag of emotions and incidents. My parents, particularly my dad, loved Xmas. Every year, we would receive a large Xmas bag full of toys. The toys would be from jumble sales and not wrapped, but did I care? No. I didn’t even notice the difference until I went into care, and found the oddity of wrapped presents – I thought I was well posh then!
Alcohol played a huge part in our Christmas’s, and always led to violence by the end of the day. The anxiety levels held by us were extreme, and very often, once I was in care, I would be physically sick on Xmas eve.
Recognition of the past at this time, and thoughts for the child’s guilt/loss/rejection/sadness/fear at not being with their birth parents is very important. Equally important is to ensure a fair and equal Christmas for all of the children. My memory of being told that the foster mum and “natural children” were to visit their nan on Xmas day afternoon and that the foster children were not invited still remains with me. The feelings of loneliness and sadness arrive with this memory.
My message to all Foster Parents is to acknowledge the potential pain that the children/young people may be experiencing, in private, maybe lighting a candle for each member, writing a “no send” letter, or just by listening and being ready with a cuddle.
Finally – this is a lovely time to build up a bank of memories and traditions for the future – to this day I still take my children and now granddaughter, to house hunt the best decorated house – this is in my memory bank from my time in Care.
Merry Christmas everyone
Hackney Child – Looked after Child Adviser and Trainer