Christmas with the John 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.

"Christmas in my parents’ house is noisy. There are always loud conversations, often about big topics like religion and politics, sometimes pretty heated. There’s always amazing food, because my mum is the best cook. I offered to cook the turkey this year actually, and my dad wasn’t keen. “It won’t be the same,” he told me. There are lots of people, lots of laughs, and sometimes some big life updates. It’s one of the only times when the whole family gets together.

It’s normal to bring a few extra guests to Christmas; that’s the kind of family we are. Amongst all the siblings and cousins, a few new friends blend right in. So when I was a supported lodgings host, it felt perfectly normal for me to bring along the young people who were staying with me.

I became a supported lodgings host a number of years ago. I remember at the time there was a lot of negative news about teenagers – particularly Black teenagers in London. As a Black person from South London, the negativity felt foreign to me because I had had a very different, pretty positive experience growing up and calling this place home. I remember hearing this news and thinking, “Well okay, what are we going to do about it?” I tried to get got involved with my community, I got stuck in with church, I became a school governor. I saw an advert for supported lodgings, a provision for young people aged 16+ whereby they live in a room in the house of a ‘host’ who provides them with emotional and practical support and helps them prepare for adulthood and independence. I thought, “I can do this.”

Usually I’m in the kitchen on Christmas Day. That tends to be a good place to start with young people when I’m introducing them to the family for the first time. There are tasks that need to be done, you’re working with your hands, you’re asking how you can help. It breaks the ice, and the conversation generally flows pretty naturally from there.

The young people I’ve introduced to my family have always been welcome and felt at home, and even if they haven’t stayed with me long, my family remember them and continue to think of them. Just the other day, my uncle asked how one of the young people I had introduced him to was doing. I was able to tell him that she was doing really, really well – she’s studying, and she’s a mum now with three children. He couldn’t believe it; he was so pleased for her.

This year, one of my sisters is suggesting something very different – she wants to spend Christmas away, in a hotel. It sounds enticing, and so luxurious – but Christmas is a family occasion, and our family is huge, and it’s an open-door and open-invitation kind of day. I can’t see her idea working out… unless we can bring everyone else with us!"

Related pages

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?

Read more
Christmas with the McAllister* family

Christmas with the McAllister* 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?

Read more
Christmas with the Maddens* family

Christmas with the Maddens* 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?

Read more

You might also be interested in

Keren's story

Stories

Keren's story

Keren is a parent and child foster carer, supporting young parents to care for their children.

Read more
A new picture: Adam and Kate's story

Stories

A new picture: Adam and Kate's story

Adam* and Kate* are just beginning to think about what their family might look like one day. They’ve shared with us some reflections after attending a fostering information session.

Read more
Erin's story

Stories

Erin's story

Louise and her adoptive mum Erin share their personal experiences of contact with Louise’s birth dad.

Read more
Louise’s story

Stories

Louise’s story

Louise and her adoptive mum Erin share their personal experiences of contact with Louise’s birth dad.

Read more

Connect locally

I would like to find out what is
going on in my area

Connect Locally

Join our mailing list for the latest Home for Good news and ways to get involved.

Together we can find a home for every child who needs one.

£
Other amount
£
Other amount

£25 per month could help us create and collate inspiring articles and blogs that encourage and inform the families and communities who care for vulnerable children