Over the years we seem to have accumulated many, what I call, waif and strays (I mean this in the nicest possible way). These people have come into our lives in many different ways; Some Mr O already knew when I met him and over the years, they have also become my friends (if not more so). Some have been introduced through other friends. Some moved into the same area and just happened to be walking past our house looking for a lost cat as we were doing a bit of gardening. And some sadly, are no longer with us.
Honestly, a few look quite rough around the edges with bald heads and strange tattoos that must have started off as something, but have morphed into something else entirely. Some have had a stint of living rough over the years and others have had a stint behind bars for one reason or another. Nearly all of them had a family of their own at some point but for whatever reason have ended up living alone. And well, those reasons don’t really matter anyway, do they. We shouldn’t care what someone might have done or not done in their past, it’s about who they are now.
The family we choose
These people are true family. They’re the family that chose us and we chose them. We trust them with our home and our lives.
They’re the people I insist on feeding whenever they happen to pop round (which happens to be quite often) of which they are unnecessarily grateful. We even have our regular Sunday Dinner attendee’s. They’re people we trust to look after our home and animals if we go away for a few days. They’re the people that occasionally spend Christmas with us because the alternative would be them spending it alone. Our home is all the better for them. And, why shouldn’t we share our home with our Waifs and Strays? No, we’re not rich but we have a home we own and a fridge full of food and a house full of Love and Laughter. Why shouldn’t we share that with others who might not have the same? What makes us any more worthy than them?
We always have people just calling in without any prior arrangement when they’re passing by. Don’t get me wrong it took me a long time to get used to this, but I love it now. I realised that it means these people feel comfortable and happy enough to just call in. It means they feel welcome and think of us as much as we think of them. And how nice is it that we have created a home where people feel like they can truly be themselves.
They don’t have much but would still give you their last fiver if you needed it. They’re the people my kids call Aunty and Uncle out of respect even though they’re not blood related. They’re people we wouldn’t be without.
A big lesson I’ve learnt over the years, and still leaning now is to not judge people on how they look or sound, what whispers you might of heard about them, where they live or have lived. Sometimes it’s hard and every day I have to make a conscious effort to ‘right’ my thoughts. I realised there’s no benefit to judging people and if I spend my time doing so then I’m actually spending that time being an extremely negative person.
Everyone has problems, everyone has insecurities, everyone has a past – some more colourful than others. It makes them no less of a person. I haven’t walked in their shoes. I don’t know what journey they’ve been on in life and what they’ve been through, and even if i did it’s not the same as feeling the emotions of the situation as they unfolded in real-time. I don’t know what it takes for them to get out of bed every day and face the world or what it takes to fall asleep at night. I don’t know the daily struggles they have with themselves on a daily basis. If i had to guess, for most, it wouldn’t be pretty.
I’m grateful to our Waifs & Strays, they have helped me understand how extremely ignorant I was at one time. I used to judge people all the time – without even realising it. They made me see that just because we look different or we’ve had different life experiences, it actually makes us no different at all really.
These people have helped me grow as a person and become less ignorant and in doing so I can raise my kids to be less ignorant and judgemental and become more positive well-rounded people who will also accumulate their own group of waifs and strays.
Because, everyone needs a helping hand at times, even if it’s just knowing that there’s somewhere to go for a coffee or a roast dinner where they will be wholly welcome and free from judgement.
But really, we’re just selfish
This is all not without a little selfishness though. As a family we get a lot out of having our Waifs & Strays. It makes me feel extremely good about myself when I stick a plate of meat, veg and potato on the lap of one of our friends. I love having a full house at Christmas and looking for hilarious gifts to pop under the tree (which usually consists of rather rude items or Star Wars or Bat Man paraphernalia) for when they pop round on Christmas day or Boxing day. And I love the impact this is all having on our kids.
So, you see, we’re just a really selfish Family that’s rather large and sometimes loud, but a happy and content one at that.
“When we make judgements we’re inevitably acting on limited knowledge, isn’t it best to ask if we seek to understand, or simply let them be?”