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Sunday’s Foster Care Blog

Christmas Day has always been an interesting experience since Alice has been with us. We try to be sensitive to her and recognise that Christmas can be difficult for looked after children, Christmas can bring up negative memories, or it simply reminds her that she is not with her birth family. Whilst having all this in mind, we also need to remember our birth children Annie and Lauren. We want them to have happy Christmas memories, and we have a number of traditions that we have always done around Christmas, such as the giving of a gift on Christmas Eve – usually something practical like pyjamas!

We go to our church for the Christingle service, and on the way home we drive around our favourite crazy houses – those houses that have all the lights and decorations outside. We give each one a mark and then award our families winner for the year! We make our way home and then eat a ‘picnic’ tea whilst watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol”. Whilst things can slightly vary from year to year, we feel it is important to have traditions. It is something to talk about, things to look forward to, and to reminisce about in the future.

One of the things that our birth children, Lauren and Annie have learnt is gratitude. It makes us as parents feel so proud to see when they open gifts that they take the time to look at them and say thank you. They have also learnt to do a “poker face” when they receive a gift that perhaps was not expected, they don’t like or they already have. What they have learnt over the years is genuine gratitude and they really do appreciate the gift no matter how small. They also have learnt the value of the giving of gifts because last year they started buying their own Christmas gifts for family – so they really have learnt the personal cost to themselves.

On the other hand, Alice shows very little gratitude. In fact she is quite vocal when she doesn’t like something. She is not able to display any tact when it comes to opening gifts. She will tell the giver that she already has that gift, or that she doesn’t like it, or that she’s not happy because she wants the things her sisters have been given. We have tried to model the right way to behave over the last four years – but am not sure much of it has sunk in. Today, was a classic example of the lack of gratitude she displays. When coming downstairs to “discover” all that Santa had brought, she spent the first few minutes scanning all that was in the room, her eyes fixed on the gifts that Lauren and Annie had been given, and she decided that they had received more gifts than her (not true – I am meticulous in ensuring all receive the same amount).

Even though we know why she is the way she is, we can’t help feel a little hurt when so much thought and care has gone into choosing her gifts. For now we ignore her lack of gratitude and focus on Lauren and Annie’s joy as they open their gifts, and hope that Alice one day can learn that how we receive a gift is as important as how many gifts we receive!

A Less Ordinary Family Fostering Blog