There is a very old advert for electricity being re-run on RTE television at the moment called ‘Coming Home’ which depicts the emigrant (prodigal) son being picked up by his Dad at the airport and driven home to his doting (Irish) Mammy who is busy preparing the house for his arrival.

The beautiful old house is lit up like a Christmas tree, the immersion is on, so himself can have a hot bath while the electric blanket warms up his bed and something nice has just been popped in the oven.

No wonder its striking a chord nationally and globally thanks to YouTube etc as it evokes perfectly what Christmas means not just to the Irish, but universally, that elusive warm fuzzy feeling of coming home to the perfect family set up which so seldom happens in reality?

It’s been a tough year in Ireland and to be honest we’re barely holding it together and while we have no choice but to work our way out of this recession there will be a lot of broken hearts this Christmas with so many families fragmented by emigration. There isn’t a family or town in Ireland that hasn’t been affected by the loss of its young people, thanks be to God for Skype and Facebook otherwise we’d lose the plot altogether…But it’s never going to be the same as having them tucked up in their own beds, under the one roof, or around the dinner table?

At this time of year you used to hear women in particular (sorry sisters) moaning about all the work that was involved with having ALL OF THE FAMILY home for Christmas and you would just want to smack them as most of us would give our right arms for just that opportunity, but not any more? It is as in-politically correct as moaning about having a job!

“Go m’beimid go leir beo an am seo aris” – "May we all be alive this time next year" used to be my father’s toast at Christmas. Sadly he’s no longer with us and like many families my heart goes out to those who have been bereaved this year, at no other time is their loss more keenly felt than at Christmas, when it often seems that the rest of the world is happy out.

In Ireland, we know different, which is why we light a candle in the window each Christmas Eve, to shine a light, not just of welcome but of hope and solidarity with family, friends and strangers throughout the world….So whatever ‘Coming Home’ means to you this Christmas whether its fondly remembering Christmases past or bravely facing up to new realities, I wish you and yours all the very best agus Nollaig Shona Dhaoibh go leir.

By Susan Byron author of