We are all used to seeing images of children wildly running around a Christmas tree. Excited by the mystery that lies beneath wrapped boxes as grandma sits passed out in the chair gripping on to her mould wine. Family old and new gathering around the dinner table filled with various meats, vegetables, condemns, pastries as the smell of cinnamon, pine, cranberries fill the room.
Hollywood has embedded this idea of Christmas in our hearts and minds. Although post peoples Christmas varies family to family the nature of it remains the same. Christmas is a time for family, food, gifts but post importantly love.
When the people who are payed to be your guardians rightfully spend this romanticised day with their love ones who do you spend it with? Where do you go?
Christmas can be awful for a lot of people, especially for care experienced children/ young people… this time of the year reminds them of everything they haven’t got, a mother stressing over the food, siblings annoying them, grandad selling stories about the war, uncle Jack drunk before dinner, and dad running around trying to keep mum happy. Yes, even the most desperate Christmas is a beautiful one – it creates memories – filled with love – regardless of how hectic it is.
December 18th for the first time presented an opportunity for care leavers to enter a room filled with presents, Christmas decorations, and a fest, a Christmas fest. The joy on the 18-year-old something faces as they walked in to the room could not be described in any other word apart from incredible. 18 years of life without a real Christmas. Without a gift. Without a Tree. Without a Christmas dinner. It was magical. Not magical because of the present, nor the food or decorations (although those things played a role of course) but for the simple fact that it was the first time in their lives they were being given the experience of Christmas.
It was truly like a normal family. There were the attendees that you don’t like that much, the ones that you only see on special occasions, the ones that do nothing but moan, the ones who come for the food and leave early, the ones that sat and enjoyed themselves, and the ones that worked hard to make the day special without the reward.
Christmas takes my shapes, not all of us come from a conventional family. However, we are all deserving of special cultural celebration. Thousands of young people will never experience the joy of Christmas, the warmth and generosity it brings. We cannot undo the past of care experienced young people but we can make sure they have the option to never feel left out over the Christmas season.