Christmas was coming – A care leaver’s story

It had been three months since entering the care system and it’s nothing like I would have expected. The carers had asked what I would like for Christmas and this began the start of my yearly ritual of scouring the Argos catalogue looking for the items I would include on my Christmas list. I was ecstatic but, in the months prior we had gone ‘toys r us’, so my room was littered with all different gadgets and gizmos. What more could I possibly need? I felt very happy to be in this Foster placement and it had started tofeel like it was my own room. It felt safe.

For someone who used to have nothing, I felt like I had everything. Although there was one gift I had longed for from since I can remember. I wanted a Nintendo DS all of my own. I can remember from years ago all the other kids at school brandishing their own DS’s and I own only owned the fictitious claim to one. It was horrible and I resented them for having stuff that I did not. It made me feel like a liar when I only wanted to save face for Christmas and birthdays, this was very wrong of me and I was taught better.

The week coming up to Christmas everyone at school had spoken about all the stuff they would get for their parent and I never had a second thought when saying I was buying made up gifts for my mom. Looking back, I realise now that I would have not wanted to buy her one. I had now seen what it really meant to be cared for and I didn’t want to be back in that environment ever again.

Christmas Eve could not have gone any slower. I don’t think I have ever wanted to miss out on a take away before but instead I opted to go to bed early and miss out on the Chinese. I would have never passed up the opportunity of take away with my mom because they were very rare, but the foster carers cooking was phenomenal, so takeaway wasn’t as exciting and it wasn’t as big of a treat.
Before I could race off to bed the foster carer handed me a large gift, but I had to open it in the living room with my other siblings. This made me very excited as I had never before had the opportunity to open a present on Christmas Eve and had always had to wait until December 25th. We all sat shoulder to shoulder on the big sofa and before our eyes this present laid before us. My older brother took charge and unboxed a metal tinwhich held some certificates. It was a star naming set and they purchased on our behalf of in memory of a close person in our lives who had passed away recently. I was brought to tears as even though we had known each other for a few months they really cared and considered us and our family as their own. I thanked them and gave them a hug and we all cried together. I loved them for this. I couldn’t have thought of anything I would have ever wanted more thanthis – it was the best present ever.
Exhausted, I finally made my way to my bed and for once in my life I was able to get to sleep quite quickly on Christmas Eve. This was my bed now and after all the stuff we had done during my short stay with thefoster carers I had begun to realise they were great parents considering wewere the first kids they had looked after. I nodded off excited for whattomorrow would bring… Christmas was so close!

Story by Iddi Cayman – CFT Apprentice and Care Leaver

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