Sunday, December 13, 2020


Eldest foster child took a stance about Christmas that surprised me.

Eldest is tough as old boots, has never knowingly done or said anything sentimental in the several years I'm proud of having him in my brood.

I didn't get his stance until I heard someone say something on TV about Christmas and the penny dropped.

The programme was on Sky Arts which we watch sometimes for Tales Of The Unexpected.

It was a discussion between 5 film critics about the best Christmas Films.

There were some surprises; Fargo, for example. There were some obvious ones like White Christmas.

The thing that drew me in was that the film critics were truly enjoying each others company, sat at a mock-up of a Christmas dinner table with a stately home giant fireplace behind them. 

What was refreshing was their sheer love of good films and their shared respect and liking for each other.

Then one of them (I think it was Stephen Armstrong the Sunday Times critic) said this simple thing that stopped me short;

"The reason we love Christmas Day so much is because for one whole day we all step out of our lives."

Isn't that it in a nutshell?

Obvious really, and yet I'd never noticed.

I had spent decades thinking the reason we love Christmas is all the stuff: decorations, tree, presents, turkey, bucks fizz and of course family.

Wrong. They're nice, but they're not the essence.

The essence of Christmas is that for 24 hours we blot out the mundane bits of living, we eliminate work or school.

If we're concentrating on it being Christmas Day we're free of our worries, bad memories, lurking fears.

THIS is why Christmas is such a day of days for foster children.

It's even more important for them to have a day out of their lives than the rest of us, because they have had a much harder time than the rest of us.

Eldest foster child had come downstairs to find me dying a bunch of white socks red. 

"What you doin'?" he asked.

"Making some small Christmas stockings to hang this year."

"WHAT!!!" he roared…"WHY???"

I replied; "The huge ones are too big now, it costs a fortune to fill them and the wrapping of a hundred stocking-fillers is a killer. And I have had to make them because you can't buy small Christmas stockings, not even on Amazon."

He stared at me eyes blazing;

"You CAN"T use anything but the usual ones. Everybody expects it. We love getting all the stupid things like Post-It notes and an orange!"

I gave in quicker than you can say a partridge in a pair tree.

Christmas to him, to foster children everywhere, is a precious day when things are as they should be in their lives, or at least a lot closer to how they should be.

It's the most different day of the year, and yet it must be either exactly the same as all the previous ones or exactly the same as they imagine it will be.

A day of lovely surprises, which are eagerly expected, looked forward to for weeks and cherished.

A day out of their lives.


  1. Husband and I are hoping to foster, possibly adopt teenagers about to age out of care. Soaking up everything you write- learning so much and enjoying your stories. Thank you!

  2. Hi A.M. Thank YOU for your kind words and moreover thank you for having such a wonderful pair of hopes!

  3. Thanks for your reply! I've been going through your archives, and I know you have written about this a bit already, but curious for more of your wisdom in offering kids the paternal/maternal love and affection they need while also being very sensitive to the fact that of course you never replace or even "compete" with biological parents. I'm sure this is something that is a bit different for each child. I'm thinking specifically about older teens who are starting to sort through complicated feelings about parents, and becoming more and more independent, while still needing true parental love from someone who cares. Would you be willing to talk more about what you've learned about this delicate balancing act?