The first Christmas I had there was one of the first times I remember expecting things would be nice rather than expecting things would be nasty.
Ella and I didn’t have any family visitors that Christmas (or indeed at any Christmas). For Ella it had been decided (by the Courts and all concerned) that it would not be in her best interest for her family to visit her and of course as far as I knew at that stage I didn’t have any family anyway (Note 1). As long as I had Ella to be my friend I didn’t really care too much. I remember that most of the other kids went off for part of the afternoon (to see family members?) but I also got the impression that quite a few of these visits ended in tears. I think the staff must have expected us to have felt “left out” but in fact we both had quite bad period pains that day (bad timing I know) and we were quite content not to rush around!
I don’t know exactly how the financial side of the Christmas presents worked. I know local charities were very kind and there used to be presents provided by them arranged by gender and age and of course there was an allocation of “present money” from the Home.
I can remember the tree and the lights so well and even now the smell of a Christmas tree transports me back to the Home. We had 3 Christmas Days at the Home (school years 10, 11 and 12) and they were all happy times for both of us. Year 13 was more complicated because by then we had moved out of the Home. We had our Christmas lunch and tea together in Ella’s flat and somehow the Home managed to get us an invitation to a Boxing Day party up there. It was fun being with lots of younger people – but only in small doses. Walking back after this party was strange because we felt we were walking to our real home(s) and that the Children’s Home was something in our past. It was a very curious feeling.
Note 1 - At this point of my life my Birth Parents and I were not in contact - that didn't happen until a few years later.