Looking around the house I happily realise that I have with the collusion of my family filled up the shelves, the picture rails, the mantle piece, the window sills and the walls with a lot of memories. Though we never deliberately set out to make the crafting of our bubble so important to us, as our home evolved a shape of it’s own that no matter how often it is dismantled, packaged away and reconstructed to fit a new house (we have moved 3 times since coming to Wales, a downfall of renting properties) it now has a life and form making it distinguishable regardless of the house it is in .
I remember my Grandad having stock phrases, almost clichéd aphorisms that were purely his own verbal idiosyncrasies and never destined to be written in some fancy font on a generic stock photo of a sunrise and sold by big corporations as a life motivational poster. They were phrases we rolled our eyes at after we heard them for the umpteenth time, where we could precognitively recognise the change in his posture or the inhalation he would take before he said them. It was those words that form the strongest parts of my memories of him and now I find myself with my own rhythm of axioms that’s syllables form their own beat in my life and push my own personality through time to oxygenate who I am.
The one I’m thinking of today, though I have many more, is
a family does not just happen, it has to be crafted.
You have to give time and effort, thought and passion to the family to nurture it to be the best that it can be. I have been lucky that life has offered me the space to stay at home and craft just a little bit more, something that is so important to me.
Don’t get me wrong, this crafting applies to personal happiness, friendships, new years resolutions, and every other aspect of anyone’s life that they feel is important and as long as you give it your attention and realise nothing will come passively but only as a direct result of making it happen, then treating it as a craft will help you become artisan.
Looking around the house this morning whilst the rest of the family sleeps, I thought I’d share just a corner that has a story or an idea to it, an area I feel is worth a share.
A few years ago my wife went out and bought a big silver alphabet letter, that came at the front of her name. She would have bought one for each member of the family but it was on sale and therefore her letter was the only one available. We joked for a long time after this that no one else got representation with the letters and her purchase of the singluar S was a matriarchal move.
Then whilst looking around the internet she found a friend of hers painted letters as personalised gifts for people to buy for friends or relatives and as a result I got a P with the Caribbean logo of my favourite chilli sauce (Encoda, which I start to panic when we get below six bottles)
This soon grew into the purchase of one for the daughters birthday (The E) and a second letter was added. Now we had two it almost seemed remiss not to get more and for Christmas one was bought for our son C (the dark blue one in the picture) and our current foster child (an M, not in the picture) Each letter having something painted on it that represents the person it was intended for. When we had our next foster child it wasn’t long after they first came to us we agreed that we would have them for the rest of their lives and the letter was a representation of that and something we purchased straight after the meeting we said yes in. At the time, the young person had a habit of making duck noises almost constantly (the young person has either Autism or Global Development Delay, so a lot of sensory behaviours were present) and they got the letter C with the duck on.
But that isn’t the end of that story. When we recognised we had a tradition, we had to have the debate about what we would do with the letters when the children moved on. Do we give them to the children to leave with, even though the stay may not be long and a lot of the foster children we cared for presented classic attachment disorder behaviours and had they a tendency to destroy property and items they owned. Or do we keep the letters to form the whole picture of our families life journey. It was a toughie as an argument could be made for both.
Ultimately we chose to hang on to the letters, even when the foster children moved on and regardless of whether the placement had broke down aggressively or not, as the child was always loved by us for the period of time they could emotionally tolerate. Our decision was to keep the letter with the letters, whilst the child was with us, but move it to another part of the room when they moved on.
Currently we only have one letter other in the house, apart from the ones pictured here, but I suspect this will grow over time and we will be able to pick each letter up and tell the story it comes with, even if at times it will be difficult to tell, and recount the time that letter was grouped with the rest of us.
After typing this I went to watch “Stranger Than Fiction” with Will Ferrell (everyone should watch it) and the quote at the end seems to fit my blog post perfectly. It talks of all the small things in your life
And we must remember
that all these things
the nuances, the anomalies,
which we assume
only accessorize our days
are, in fact, here for a much larger
and nobler cause:
They are here to save our lives.
I know the idea seems strange.
But I also know that it is true