Even if there are no bad memories, adverts are constantly telling us that Christmas is a time for families, and children may be aware that other children are allowed to spend the holiday season with their parents and they are not. Contact around Christmas can be very painful and confusing for both parents and children, as they exchange gifts and try to have their celebration in the strange environment of the contact centre.
(This is for children with autism, but I suspect that one for fostered children would look quite similar)
In the end we've decided to go quite low key. We put up the tree yesterday (which Peter loved), but have put it at the back of the living room rather than the front, to avoid moving Peter's toys and so that he can choose to go near it or not. Peter has food anxieties so we're going to have our main meal and open our own presents in the evening on Christmas Day after he's gone to bed, and we're going to gradually spread out his presents over a few days (and leave some unwrapped) and see how it goes rather than having a big overwhelming pile of gifts. Esmeralda's mum is coming to stay over Christmas week and is being very understanding of the fact that it's going to be a bit different this year.
Peter's making so much progress that next year will probably be completely different, and he may well cope with a bigger build up with talk of Father Christmas and presents under the tree. Of course, as foster carers we don't know exactly what our family will look like next year - we may have one or two more children with us (and a labradoodle if Esmeralda has anything to do with it!) so will need to consider their needs too. Whilst we'll incorporate our family traditions, Christmas will more than likely be different every year!