The screens are full of it, the airwaves awash with it, the obligatory picture is snapped. Irish emigrants are coming home for Christmas.
We have had stories of long lost loved ones, of GAA clubs welcoming back their team, of gay emigrants and third generation emigrants. Ireland opening its arms to its sons and daughters, as we engage in a collective hug.
Yet the embrace is hollow and the welcome is false. Irish emigrants are simply fitting into the Christian narrative, the fairy on the tree, the icing on the cake.
In recently announcing the list of proposed referendum to be held in Ireland Enda Kenny simply ignored us. He sent his Minister for the Diaspora bearing gifts and false hope to quell the noise outside the door.
Irish emigrants have given this nation a national service that is rarely whispered and steadfastly ignored. Turning their back on the dole, refusing to be tangled in Mammy’s apron strings, their decision to leave lessens the financial load.
Once the wheels go up and the seatbelt light is extinguished the Department of Finance officials sigh with relief. Billions saved by the thousands who refuse to be a burden. A generation says No, we will make our own way.
On we go building from backpacks but never loosing our passion for this nation. We congregate at the four corners, reminisce, smile in pleasantries at what could be done, what should be done, what went learned here, what we found there. Positive thoughts thrown to the idle wind.
We come back and smile and see a country gingerly picking itself off the floor. We are novelty, the lad, your wan from abroad. We see some doing well, others striving to do well, others clearly not. Same faces appear on darkened doors, the local TD bringing chocolate and card, hand delivered don’t you know.
Every sunset ticks closer to the day of return. A day you never sought or wish upon the children you might one day have. You watch your parents, age etching at their face. You look in the mirror at age dancing upon yours and you ask. How long more? How long more will they stand against the weathervane of time? Will you miss the call? Will you fumble at an urgent text as dawn breaks very far from home? How long more?
You rein it in but seek some change. A voice for the burden you bear, a recognition for the burden you carried.