Spent my teenage years growing up in a children's home. Every Christmas I would go to my foster parents. Well, they weren't really my foster parents officially any more but I still saw them all the time with a view to them possibly fostering me again. It never worked out that way. As I got older I became more resentful. I would sit at the table and see all these strong bonds e.g husband and wife, brother and sister, cousins, long term friends and although to all of them I would have been foster daughter or foster sister etc I never felt as though I fitted in as strongly. I would get annoyed when the young uns would go off to the pub but I would be left behind with my foster mum and dad. I felt as though they knew I had no where else to go for Christmas so I should be grateful to be stuck at home with them peeling sprouts while all the other had gone down the pub. I went to theirs a few times during university and then just got sick of being there but feeling left out, having to do exactly what they wanted, or not fitting in. Another time my foster parents went off to Australia to visit their tow children who were travelling. That year I was passed to the next door neighbour. They were lovely, but I couldn't help feeling left out again as everyone had gone away. That is just the crux of being the non-foster child. I can't help thinking that in a normal family the sibling to be left behind would feel left out if everyone went away and left them behind. A similar experience was when my foster parents did a treasure hunt for my foster brother and sister to find their main present and again I wasn't included in that. I wasn't bothered about the present, it the matter that they spend the rest of the year saying you are part of the family but then don't include me in things like treasure hunts. Another year I spent it with my brothers foster family. That was good as at least I had a special bond with my brother. One other year I went to a friend's house in England. I had a lovely time. However we fell out not long after. I just got an impression (in my old age I think this was a wrong impression) that all the time after she would feel that because I was so grateful for her having me for Christmas she had the monopoly on the friendship. It is very wrong to think like that I know, and I was grateful but I don't want to spend a Christmas being grateful for having companionship, things that people have naturally with having a family. I realise, again with old age, that things are not as black and white as that. Last year I went home to spend Christmas with my mum and sister and I had never done that before. The year before that I spent Christmas with my Malaysian flatmate and his Malaysian friends and we ate Malaysian food. I enjoyed that year This year and only yesterday I met my boyfriends family for the first time. I was invited the evening before but knowing load of his relatives would be their I bottled. Firstly I am sick of being the one that has to walk into a room at Christmas were loads of people already know each other and I have to spend the time getting to know people, when really Christmas should be about being relaxed with people you already know. I went last night to his mum and dad's house and met them for the first time. I was still scared. As we arrived something happened to his car. So I had to knock the door myself while he sat in the car. It helped to break the ice, possible fate's way of making things easier for me and helping to take the focus off me. This morning we spent time opening presents but his family had got him loads and I only had a few. I know, I know! Of course I am really grateful but it just another example of having to be grateful for what I have got when the person beside you is opening loads of gifts and you are supposed to be equal. My boyfriend is great but I could just easily be spending Christmas with an idiot. I think this year will be great and I have learnt that people fit into families in different ways. The only shame is I never feel like I enjoy it very much as I have the feeling that next Christmas could be different or spent with other people. I must say the very best Christmas in recent years have been the ones I spent on my own. Sounds odd, but I could just be, didn't feel left out and didn't need to get to know people. Then again. I have also realised that everyone doesn't have the perfect family or Christmas. I think it is nice to have a boyfriend at Christmas but if he wasn't here or I didn't have one I would have no shame in spending Christmas on my own or accepting another invitation. I think our expectations of families at Christmas and finding love at Christmas mainly comes from how we see it portrayed on films and television and I think we should just do Christmas as we want.