“Twas the Night Before Christmas
‘‘Twas the night before Christmas………
…….and this Foster Carer was anxious.
I’ll be honest to say that I hadn’t planned to write this blog. I had actually already written one focusing on the New Year, but having had the experience we did, I couldn’t not share it.
This is, as most of you know, our first Christmas as Foster Carers. To say I was anxious about the actual day was an understatement. Christmas Eve is always one of my favourite days – in fact, I’d say I actually prefer it to Christmas Day. That lead up of excitement comes to a crescendo on Christmas Eve with reindeer dust sprinkling, hot chocolate drinking and Polar Express watching. It has always been a really special time for my own children and I know that a big part of my anxiety about the day was that the excitement would be diminished or even lost for them due to our new arrivals. We have all spent this year carving ‘new normals’ and I think that my two teenagers were a little on edge (to say the least) about having to adapt their Christmas to suit others, it was the proverbial, straw that could break the camel’s back.
Christmas Eve started off with somewhat confusion when ‘elves’ delivered our Christmas Eve sacks. In these, I simply put new pyjamas, fluffy socks, slippers, reindeer dust and snacks to have during the film we watch. Our youngest foster child thought that was it, Christmas done and dusted. And quite frankly, he was happy with his new PJs! I had to explain that the presents arrived tomorrow and that he could be rest assured that he would have at least one toy he could play with, not just pyjamas!
We went through the motions of making hot chocolate bombs (if you haven’t had one, please, I urge you to try one), getting changed into our new wears and settling down to watch The Polar Express. Despite spending the weeks running up to the day winding me up and saying they were too old to watch that film with us, the two teenagers joined us and all eight of us sat, for two hours, engrossed. The room was filled with this tangible feeling of familiarity and tradition (our birth children) and excitement and amazement (our foster children). Now, I’m not sure if it was just the couple of glasses of fizz that were running through my blood or some kind of ‘stars aligning’ moment but the blur of the fairy lights, the dulcet tones of Tom Hanks and the focus on our six, mismatched faces actually brought a tear to my eye. I sat back and allowed my brain to turn off and to just feel. I stopped worrying if someone would be overwhelmed or let down or would act out. I let the pressure of ‘the day’ melt away. And all I felt was calm. As if I was exactly where I should be at exactly the right time.
After the film we went outside in dressing gowns/onesies under our coats and boots over slipper socks and we ran around sprinkling reindeer dust that even managed to work our very placid, 13-year-old foster child into a red-cheeked frenzy. The dogs were with us and they ended up covered in glitter, munching on oats. Mince pies and milk were left for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and stockings were left by the fire. If Christmas Eve was anything to go by, then 2021 has a lot to offer. There are so many firsts in fostering and that first Christmas will forever be ingrained in me. And whether we keep our placement children long term or whether we are with different children next year, my family and I now know that it CAN be done. The magic wasn’t lost. In fact, it felt more magical than ever before.