Christmas with the Hobbs* family

After the year we’ve had, there’s a lot of talk about celebrating a ‘normal’ Christmas this year. But is there really such a thing?

Across the UK, many families will be celebrating in December with their favourite food, their preferred time to share gifts and their own traditions. The chances are that no two households will celebrate in exactly the same way.

As we recognise that sometimes Christmas, New Year and other holidays need to look a little different for the families of care-experienced children, we want to celebrate the beauty and the joy in the fact that there’s really no such thing as a ‘normal’ Christmas.

"I grew up as an only child. Christmas during my childhood was very ordered and organised; Dad would distribute presents and we’d open them one by one, watching one another and expressing the appropriate thanks or excitement before moving on to the next one. That sounds very idyllic now. Since my siblings joined our family, that order has definitely gone out the window! I was at university when my adopted sister came home, and my foster brother, who is a teenager now, moved in not long after that. So for the last nine years I’ve had a kid-filled Christmas, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way now.

I’m one of those people who loves everything about Christmas, but there are a few memories and traditions that are particularly dear to me. We all get up incredibly early to open our stockings together, before enjoying some kind of pastry for breakfast. We always go to church on Christmas morning. Our church is pretty small, but there are quite a lot of children for its size and every year they bring their presents to church. I remember one year my sister came to church wearing her new roller skates and Frozen onesie! We sing carols in keys far too high for anyone, so we all sound terrible, and I love it.

But I think my favourite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve. I just love the excitement. Every year my nan comes over and ‘sorts the veg out’ with mum for dinner the next day – which I’ve never felt is a two-person job, but it’s a tradition now. We order pizza and we watch a Christmas movie together. I always vote for Elf, which is my favourite, although my foster brother prefers The Polar Express. He and I have a lovely moment every year, after we’ve put the mince pie out for Santa and my sister has gone to bed, when we arrange the presents under the tree together, giving our own gifts a shake to guess what’s inside. It doesn’t sound like a big moment – but it’s ‘our thing.’

This Christmas will definitely look different. My parents have just moved out of the house they’ve lived in my whole life, so we’ll have a new mantlepiece to hang our stockings on, a different kitchen to cook our dinner in, a different room for our tree and our gifts. It’s also the first Christmas since my foster brother moved out. We will invite him to spend the day with us this year, but not in a way that will feel stressful, like we’re putting pressure on him to come. We just want him to know he’s welcome. I think we’ll hold quite a lot of our plans loosely this year, and just see what happens – but I think I might put a vote in to watch The Polar Express this Christmas Eve."

*names have been changed for anonymity

Related pages

Christmas with the Walker* family

Christmas with the Walker* family

After the year we’ve had, there’s a lot of talk about celebrating a ‘normal’ Christmas this year. But is there really such a thing?

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Christmas with the Abbott* family

Christmas with the Abbott* family

After the year we’ve had, there’s a lot of talk about celebrating a ‘normal’ Christmas this year. But is there really such a thing?

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Christmas with the Bailey* family

Christmas with the Bailey* family

After the year we’ve had, there’s a lot of talk about celebrating a ‘normal’ Christmas this year. But is there really such a thing?

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