Homeless At Christmas

One of Our Christmas Trees

It’s Christmas time once again and I’m feeling reflective, philosophical and slightly morbid. Ok prehaps morbid is the wrong word, it’s just I don’t know the correct word that expresses “acceptance of the reality that all things created die/expire, but that death is just the start of the next adventure”. Even that doesn’t express what I mean by my misuse of the word morbid because I also wish to convey a strong sense of my place in the universe, my connection with the creator and the beauty of creation and all its mechanisms. Still that doesn’t cover my misuse of the word morbid as the personal element is missing. I’m 42 born female although not registered as such (that’s a whole different post) with deteriating physical health, fully aware that the average age homeless females in UK die is 43. I’m rough sleeping and far from stupid. I know myself and I know my body. All I will say is I will be extremely late, we’re talking 30 or 40 years late, for my funeral.

But HEY IT’S CHRISTMAS it’s supposed to be a happy time, with family whatever family looks like to the person. My family is a ragtag bunch of misfits, dressed in scruffy clothes, and quite frankly on the whole we smell. Nothing can produce quite the same stench as my family’s feet, yes of course I include my feet in this, my socks have officially been classed as offensive weapons before!!! ‘Tis what it is.

My family hasn’t always been this family I grew up with a different family but for some of my family it’s the only type of family they have ever known. I didn’t choose my family because nobody (apart from Rupert wait for the book) gets to choose their family. Yes we are family but we still annoy the heck out of each other, shout, insult, attack each other. You show me a family that doesn’t. However just like any other family we will stand together against folk who don’t like our family. We eat round the same table, have in jokes that people who aren’t family members wouldn’t understand. We have family legends tall storys told by distant members who drop by from time to time. Does this sound similar to your family?

And just like every other person I need time away from my family. Could you put up with eating, socialising and sleeping with your family without a break? The need for time away from family doesn’t mean I don’t care deeply for my family, if your honest this is exactly the same as you is it reader.

And of course the reason for the season an unmarried mother, baby and the man she was due to marry who wasn’t the baby’s father. This was a homeless family the baby was born in a shed were some animals were sheltering. No NHS hospital, no midwife, not even running water (apart from prehaps down the walls were the roof leaked a bit). Luckily for this family there was no social services department in their culture but having a child out of wedlock was NOT done it could be punished with death. The fact the future husband was not the baby’s father….we’re talking scandle, exile from community and probably death for the lot of them baby included.

I saw a painting of what the scene may of looked like the expression on the man’s face, his name was Joseph by the way, said it all. The decisions facing Joseph were massive life and death for a woman, she was called Mary, who had got herself pregnant NOT by Joseph, BEFORE they had tied the marriage knot. Didn’t she realise their danger that placed them in! He could disown her and the child legally a bastard, in an attempt to save his own life or he could lie and say the baby was his which would shift the blame from Mary squarely onto him. I reckon you’ve worked out what Joseph chose to do and respect to him it must of taken more baubles than our Christmas tree.

This is my second Christmas homeless in Edinburgh and I’m ok(ish) with this. Looking back over the last 12 months I think it’s safe to say I’ve made some waves. I’ve managed to achieve things that have never happened before like, a lifetime ban from 1 homeless meal for daring to be bullied and for saying that the organisers reduced me to tears 5 times. I’ve got an indefinite ban from the Big Issue for being honest, I’ve got a letter from HMRC detailing my self assessment tax report (well Big Issue is self employment and honesty is the best policy), I’ve got my work coaches manager as my work coach as I sacked my former work coach, I’ve got normal employment although health has caused me to take time off, I’m also pretty well known amongst those who attend conferences/workshops focusing on ending homelessness, I’ve met the Housing Minster from Scottish gov’t a few times and he has my utmost respect, he’s a decent human first and politician second. I’ve also had my hard work assisting with the attitude shift needed for homelessness to end formally recognised.

All in all, everything considered it’s been a good year. The man who was causing most of the trouble I’ve had in this city has disappeared, got in trouble with drug dealers apparently.

I’m going to make the most of my Christmas and I’ll have a good one.

I would like to wish ALL of you reading this a HAPPY CHRISTMAS with your family whoever and whatever they may be.

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