I do. I was 8 and was living in my first foster home, after the emergency home. I had no idea what Thanksgiving was. I only lived with my bio-parents for 7 years, so I guess that was not enough time for them to figure out Thanksgiving. I don’t even know if they knew what Thanksgiving was, like Christmas, birthdays, and all other forms of celebrations or holidays. And in school, when I went, we drew turkeys and talked about piligrims and indians, but it did not make sense to me. I don’t remember seeing a turkey until I went into foster care … and I don’t really remember feeling thankful for anything …except for when my bio-father wasn’t drunk or when my bio-mother was actually home and not somewhere on the streets or for when my bio-brother and I could find pizza in the trash behind the pizza place to eat because we were starving. But I don’t know if that was being thankful or just survival. So NO concept of Thanksgiving until I was 8.
My foster parents loved Thanksgiving. They even decorated the house with Thanksgiving things like a kitchen turkey towels and indian corn and candy corn .. …. I kind of didn’t get it. They told me it was a day to be thankful and celebrate blessings and to be with the ones you love and care about. So, I REALLY didn’t get it. I did not know what I was thankful for and I did not feel that anyone loved or cared about me.
As the official day got closer, I actually got nervous. I remember crying because I did not know what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to act on a day that seemed so important to everyone, but me.
On the day, I remember Sara (foster mom) explaining how “their family” did things, so I would not be too confused. Each person helped to bring things to the table and Bill (foster dad) would then bring the turkey once everyone was sitting down. Before eating, each person at the table would say something they were thankful for this year and then we would all eat! And I could eat anything I wanted, but to eat slowly and save room for dessert. The whole thing was really overwhelming to me…… and I remember spending alot of time thinking about and practicing how I would say what I was thankful for; because I decided that I was thankful that Sara and Bill let me stay at their home.
So, I can’t remember the exact number of people there, but there were some other kids, some older people, and a couple people I had met before. And there was TONS of food. More food than I had ever seen in my entire life. I could not believe there was that much food in one house. There was more food on that one day than 30 in my bio-parents house EVER. I was besides myself with excitement but worried and sad too.
People started bringing items to the table. Sara gave me the rolls and I managed to get them to the table perfectly. So, I thought I would try and help with something else, and I went back to the kitchen. Some lady, without thinking I suppose, handed me a bowl of cranberries. I had NEVER seen cranberries in my life. As I walked into the dining room I was trying to stick my fingers to lick the side of the bowl … and before I could get to the table, CRASH, to the floor went the cranberries.
I am a foster kid and the first thing I did was run and hide. I did not clean up, I did not apologize, I took off running. Because in my world, at 8, you think that if you hide, just maybe they won’t find you … I ruined the whole day for all those people and I would pay. Would it be a fist, a glass bottle, a belt, a bat, an electrical cord … or would I have to do much worse? …… I did not know them very well. I hid in the closet under a pile of clothes (that I was supposed to hang up previously) and cried. I messed up again. I can’t do anything right. I’m bad. And now I am going to get hurt.
It seemed like forever that time passed before the closet door opened and Sara sat down, coaxing me to take the clothes off my head. She was so gentle and her voice was soft and not angry at all. In fact, it was almost filled with a sense of humor. I don’t remember everything she said, but she did say “Anyone who gives an 8-year old a bowl of cranberries is the one who made the mistake!!” She assured me that everything is fine and that there is ALOT of food waiting for me. With alot more coaxing and some smiles, she got me to climb out of the closet and back downstairs.
At the table, when it was my turn to say what I was thankful for, I said “I was thankful that Sara and Bill did not hit me because I dropped the food on the floor.”
I was 8 and that was my first Thanksgiving…