The song says that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
If you mutter; "Humbug' they shout; 'Scrooge!'
I don't care; much of it is humbug and for the foster carer it's the most challenging time of the year.
First up, did you know that more children are taken into care around Christmas than any other time of the year?
We're told that this is because Christmas throws more families onto the rocks than anything else.
It exaggerates poverty, encourages drinking, magnifies rifts.
It magnifies rifts like this;
A man, lets call him Ricky, has three children; Paris, Ripley and Wayne. He had Paris with a woman called Jade. He had Ripley with a woman called Zizzie. Jade hates Zizzie because she thinks Zizzie stole Ricky. Ricky had Wayne with Fern who is Zizzie's sister. Wayne was named Wayne out of 'respect' for the man who thinks he's Wayne's father (big Man U fan) but isn't.
Paris is currently being fostered much to Zizzie's delight because it means she's a better mum than Jade but jealous because Jade is partying while Zizzie hasn't got a life what with all the bl**ding kids.
Did I mention that all these sad people live on the same estate?
Ricky's mum wants to see both the two grandchildren she knows about to give them their Christmas presents, they're all she's got as her husband has bu**ered off with someone else. However it's a scheduling horror show because no-one can agree on who sees who, when and why over Christmas.
Foster parents recognise this sort of reality from the backgrounds of the children they care for, the rest of the public have no choice but watch Jeremy Kyle to find out about such lives.
Zizzie's current partner, a friend of Ricky, is having it off with someone else too and Zizzie's home is already one with blood on the walls. Having to keep the kids occupied in the run-up to Christmas is hard enough for her but she can blackmail them into good behaviour with threats that Santa won't come.
If only schools went back on Boxing Day.
It's the aftermath of Christmas Day when everything comes to crunch; bored kids, Zizzie suspecting that Jade (the one with the child in foster care) is having it easy because she can lie in until lunchtime then still go to the pub as her child benefit is still being paid her. Meanwhile Jade is envious of Zizzie who is playing happy families. In reality Zizzie's trying to keep up with Jade's lifestyle and is out every night. All night.
Jade will phone social services twice between Chistmas Day and New Years Day and pass on stories Ricky's told her about what a bad mother Zizzie is, which he did to get her confidence so he could get his leg over.
Ripley, along with Zizzie's other children (by different dads) will be taken away from Zizzie for their own safety and taken to emergency foster carers who will do their best to help an abused, frightened and lonely child.
The most wonderful time of the year.
Ripley's emergency foster family have two foster children already. One is a permanent placement who will never go home but is longing to, and knows that his mum and dad are having some kind of Christmas - separately, no-one knows where - which he's sad about missing even though every Christmas he can remember was a nightmare. Their other child will one day go home and is having her Christmas spoiled by her real parents who are trying too hard to over-compensate for their failings by trying to intervene over Christmas with excessive contacts, texting, Facetiming, overspending on presents and hassling to see their child on Christmas Day itself, but not really wanting to because no kids means they can drink to excess, although having kids never stopped them before.
Both children give their foster parents more challenges over Christmas than usual.
The foster parents get through Christmas using the old fostering trick of taking a glimpse of them when they are asleep. All children look like butter wouldn't melt when they are asleep.
Look, Christmas isn't all doom and gloom in fostering, far from it.
I can remember countless moments of pure deep joy. A couple of examples;
The child who laid eyes on the Christmas dinner table where there was no more room for dishes of food and said (I quote) "I didn't know you could have so much food".
The child who, on opening her big present said (I quote) "Is this what it's like to be happy?"
But is it the most wonderful time of the year?
Oh here I go dreaming as I always do, that this year will be the best Christmas ever.
Oh s*d it.