This poem by former Fairbridge Farm School resident Tom Isherwood describes the terrible loneliness, fear and sense of rejection many British Home Children experienced upon arriving in this country. See my next post: First Christmas in Canada: One Boy’s Experience for a backgrounder on Tom and Fairbridge’s operations near Duncan, BC where he lived from 1947-50.
First Christmas in Canada 1947
by Tom Isherwood
I was six years old when I tried to sleep,
the room was dark, and there wasn’t a peep.
Christmas Eve was here at last,
in my new country that is so vast.
I hung a darned woolen sock at the foot of my old iron bed,
one blanket, and no pillow for my tiny head.
Pictures of war played in my mind,
a gruesome reminder I could have died.
My first Christmas in Canada in nineteen forty-seven,
the dormitory is quiet like it must be in heaven.
Rhythmic soft breathing of other little boys,
some dream of magical toys.
As morning came with broken sleep,
I had not counted many sheep.
I fumbled quietly in the dark,
a strange feeling in my heart.
My sock had gone from the end of the bed,
and fear set in that Santa is dead.
Silently I lay in bed, tears of sadness I did shed.
Outside I went and scanned the skies,
and I prayed that Santa had not crashed and died.
To my family that abandoned me,
you broke my heart ’til eternity.
Elders tried to make me understand
Santa hadn’t changed my address in this great big land.
Man is born equal so it’s said;
tell that to the Orphan in the iron bed.