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Some years ago, I was sitting at my dinner table with my family. It was just before Christmas. We were enjoying our normal Sunday Roast dinner and sticky date pudding for dessert. Our Sunday nights were very special to us as a family and we enjoyed them whilst we embraced the joy of unity of companionship and love.
But, that Sunday night, there was a knock at the door. We were not expecting visitors and it seemed strange... was it someone bearing bad news? 
My daughter said " Dad, you answer it. "  
I left the table and walked to the hallway. The snow was falling and the temperature had dropped significantly over the past few days. it seemed unimaginable that someone was out in such conditions. Perhaps it was a motorist who had broken down?
The knock came again, and I opened the front door. In front of me was a man, looking cold and weak. He looked at me and said " Please help me. " 
By this time, my entire family had joined me at the front door. My daughter looked at the man, saw his pleading eyes and said to the man " You must come in. Have some food and warm yourself by the fire. "
 

 
I was reluctant, preferring to ring the ambulance or Police. But my son-in-law agreed with my daughter, Sarah.. " Dad! You must let him come in and join us. What if he was to die? "
My wife looked me in the eye and said to me " Joe, you and I are Christians. We must practice our faith. Let him join us. "
So the man came into our home and sat at our table and ate our food. He thanked us, most profusely and said that we were the epitome of Christian generosity. My family eagerly engaged the man in conversation and he told us his story.
He had been homeless, unemployed, alone and without hope. All he wanted, he told us, was to find a job and support his wife and family so that they could join him and they could be reunited. 

  
As the evening progressed, my daughter, son-in-law and my wife decided that it was impossible for this troubled soul to leave and insisted that he stay the night.
The snow was now falling more heavily and the chill outside had become greater. The man had a bed made up on the sofa and he went to bed, full of gratitude and full of wonder at our generosity.
 
The next morning, I awoke to the smell of bacon, sausages and tomatoes cooking, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the vision of toast sitting on our breakfast table. My wife was fussing about the man and urging him to eat whatever he wished and drink whatever he wanted.
The man said, so politely, " I appreciate your kindness. But is it possible to have eggs and maybe a cup of tea? "
My wife immediately apologised and started to prepare eggs. Would he like them scrambled, boiled, or poached? "
 
"Perhaps an omelette " he replied.
 
I felt increasingly ill at ease as I finished my bacon and fried eggs.  
 
"Jean " I said " may I speak with you alone? "
I took my wife aside.
"He is not a puppy Jean. Please stop pandering to him. He is leaving this morning and it is not fair to him or to us if you build up his expectation. "
  
 
Jean looked at me with shock. " I cannot believe you just said that " she responded. " He is a guest in our home. " 
 
I held her hand and said " Only until after breakfast Jean. "
My wife was horrified. " You are not suggesting we evict him and send him back out into the cold?  Are you that heartless? "
" I am not suggesting it, Jean. I am telling you that he is not staying. He is leaving. This morning. Right after breakfast. "
 
About 5 minutes later, Jean called me to the phone. " I have Sarah on the phone. She wants to speak with you and she is not happy. " She held the telephone out to me and I reluctantly took it from her. 
 
" Sarah? " I said.
" Daddy, what is wrong with you? That poor man! How could you? If you do not let him stay, I will never speak with you again."
With that, she ended the call. I looked at my wife.
She said " So, he stays. "
A week later, the man no longer slept on the couch. He had taken over the guest bedroom.
 

 
Our Sunday dinner had changed - the roast was no longer on the menu. We had a rice dish with no dessert because the man felt that it was wrong to eat with so much disregard for those less fortunate.  He also explained that his religion forebade him eating pork so there was no more bacon at breakfast. 
My wife, daughter and son in law all agreed that we had been too excessive and that it was only right to be grateful for what we have rather than flaunt our good fortune. They also applauded his adherence to his religious beliefs and felt it was only respectful for us to stop saying Grace at mealtime. 
My wife, Jean, had contacted officials to track down his wife and family and with great joy, a month on, she announced that she had found them.
" Great news! I have found your family and I have given them our address so that you can finally be reunited. "
The man was delighted.
Not long after, his family arrived at our front door.
His wife and children were greeted with warm embraces from my family and the man.  They, of course, would stay in our home that night. 
 

 
I left early, pleading a headache and retreated to the sanctuary of the garage. I found that, increasingly, I looked forward to going to work so that I could escape my own home. 
And I felt guilty for feeling thus.
My wife retired some hours later and whispered to me " Isn't it marvellous? We have done a good thing today! " and snuggled up to me with the contentment of the righteous.
I lay beside her, silent and unable to return her warmth. I felt isolated and full of foreboding.
The weeks turned into months and the man and his family slowly took over our home.
Our Sunday Roasts were a thing of the past. We had vacated our bedroom and it had been given over to a bunk room for the children. The man and his wife occupied the guest room and we slept on the couch.
I worked double shifts so that I could pay for the extra food, electricity and medical needs of the man and his family. My wife had become a servant and my daughter and son-in-law no longer visited.
 

 
 
One night, as we lay on the couch I said to Jean " What happened to us? We had a good life and a happy family. How did this happen? "
Jean looked at me and appeared angry. " We are so lucky. We are being given this opportunity to help this poor family and you feel the need to criticise? " She shook her head and continued.
" I married you because you were a good man.  decent man. and yet you deny these people the right to enjoy what we have enjoyed?"
"Jean " I said " Why can't he get a job? Why do I have to support him and his family? "
My wife looked at me with disgust and contempt.
" I knew that you would say that. The man said you would. It is your duty to look after them. They need to recover from the trauma that they have endured... and you know what?  It is OUR fault."
That was a few years ago now.
I no longer work. I had a heart attack and couldn't afford my medical care so I am homeless.

 
No one could pay the mortgage on the house so it has gone. The man and his family got a free house and a benefit so they are doing quite well. My wife is now in politics and is running for the Senate to help people like that man and his family.
It was snowing tonight and I was cold and hungry. It was Christmas Eve. I knocked on the door and a man answered. 
Inside, I could hear the happy sounds of a family eating and enjoying  Sunday Roast. I imagined the response  " You must come in. Have some food and warm yourself by the fire. "
The door opened, and the man looked t me with pity and sadness.
" Can you help me? " I asked.
" No, I am sorry, I can't. If I let you in, you might not leave. "
He closed the door, and I did not blame him.
 

 
It is cold here tonight.
It is cold all over the world.
I sit here shivering and unemployed, penniless and without hope whilst the man sleeps soundly in a warm bed.
I only wish that I had not opened the door and let the bastard in.
 
 
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