Written by Cheyanne Ratnam, @CheyRatnam, a member of our Young Person’s Advisory Council, former young person in care, CaFdn Ambassador, S.S.W., B.S.W., M.S.W. Candidate.
I ♡ Christmas. It’s such a great opportunity to brighten someone’s day. On my way to the red carpet pre-screening of the movie Annie for people connected to foster care and/or adoption (sponsored by the Adoption Council of Ontario and Adopt4Life Ontario), I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a mother and her son, who looked to be around 7 years old, sitting in front of me on the bus. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop; I was trying to entertain myself with my phone. They were talking about Christmas and the little boy asked his mom if Santa will have the chance to visit him this year. The boy asked his mom if Santa didn’t like him because all of his friends find presents under their tree. He asked his mom if they would have a tree this year. He asked his mom if there’s anything wrong with him and how he has always been a good boy. The mom explained to the boy that Santa can sometimes become very busy because he has so many kids in need around the world. The boy told his mom that it makes him sad every year because the kids at school brag about their gifts and it makes him feel different. They ended up getting off at the subway station and headed onto the subway, which was where I was getting off as well. I followed them into the subway… yes, I sound like a stalker now. The boy asked if he could ask Santa to get a box of Christmas cards, a bag of candy canes, a colouring book, a math workbook, and a Home Alone movie. His mom replied saying Santa may not be able to; the boy said he understood. The mom then asked the boy if he was excited about getting his photo done with Santa when they get to the mall. I decided to take a detour and got off at their stop.
There was something special about that boy; what he was saying reminded me of myself. Although Christmas is my favourite time of year, a part of me feels down sometimes when my social media newsfeed fills up with pictures of family get togethers, dinners and presents.
I watched them get into the line-up to get their pictures taken. I went to Walmart and came out. A couple of minutes after they exited the Santa photo hut, I approached them and handed the boy a gift bag. Inside were : a box of Christmas cards, two educational workbooks, a colouring book, box of crayons, a bag of small candy canes, and a Home Alone movie. I also gave him a card. Inside the card, I apologized on behalf of Santa for not being able to visit him in the past and that Santa sent me to give him his gifts as an early Christmas offering, as a way of making up for before. In the card I wrote that he must be a very lucky boy to have a mom like he has and that sometimes, besides presents, we have the great gift of people who care about us, for friends, and for family. OMG this kid’s face — I’ll never forget it. He was beaming.
This act of kindness may have been taken as a transgression but luckily the mom welcomed it and gave me a hug. The boy hugged me and asked if I could give Santa a hug from him as well. Obviously I said yes. He said he knew mall Santas are fake, pointing at the imposter sitting in the Santa hut — although, technically, I was an imposter as well. I winked at him and explained that some people aren’t lucky enough to meet Santa’s personal friends like him and so they go to the Santa huts in malls for the next best thing. He had the biggest smirk on his face.
I got back on the subway and headed to adoption/foster care event, which after all that, I was still early and the first one to arrive. How is that possible? Lol.
I believe that compassion and kindness will be returned 10 fold in due time, even if you are low on money, which I am. People are rich in so many ways beyond monetary means. Sometimes we need to understand richness in other ways.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. Although I may not have an immediate family that celebrates it or have the opportunity to take part in family dinners, I’m sure it’ll happen someday. It will definitely be a tradition in my own family in the future. This time of year for some reason lifts my spirits.
Last year was the first year I recieved presents since I was 18. After aging out of care, those things stopped. When I received the presents, I remember thinking to myself: wow, people think about me. What I felt, I cannot explain. Although we may be surrounded by people, aging out of care can make people feel lonely, especially at this time of year. Especially when we are bombarded with pictures, writing/posts, videos, etc. of the things some of us yearn for.
I hope I can make Christmas special for my kids and partner and surround them with lots of loved ones. Family is one of the most important things to me. Strong families are priceless. Over time I have created my own conceptualization of family as outlined by my written pieces, but for my own kids, although they will create meanings as they grow, I want them to have biological family members around them for sure. Of course that means requiring my potential partner to also view family as a cornerstone as well. Lol.
Christmas is almost here 🙂 Probably a year I don’t do anything special, (it’s a norm), but I am sure glad it’s coming.
In two weeks will be helping out at the Foundation’s Holiday Season Celebration for kids in care. What a perfect way to lift spirits and share the joy of the season.