You might not know me because I’ve never been in touch with you before. You know yourself, writing letters to you is not considered to be an adult-thing to do. Because adults are supposed to be all serious, grown-up, matter-of-fact, and be able to take responsibility for their own life – and their own presents. When I was young enough to write letters that in Ireland I would have sent to you, I sent them to the “Christkind”, the baby Jesus, because it’s the Christkind who brings joy (and presents) to the Germans on Christmas Eve. (See, Germans are always a step ahead.) Which must be great for you – knowing that 80m Germans will be well looked after by the Christkind while you then just have to look after the rest of the world on your busiest night of the year.
We have three children, two daughters and one son, all of them ‘grown-up’. You must remember them, because they always wrote letters to you and left notes for you and Rudolf, together with a drop of the auld “uisce beatha” for you and a carrot for Rudolf.
The reason you didn’t hear from them over the past two years is not because they deliberately stopped writing or because they didn’t believe in your magic anymore or because they were naughty or anything like that.
They didn’t write to you because one of them, Pádraig, our son, was hit by a car two and a half years ago when he was 23 years old and suffered a devastating brain injury. Since then, their life changed beyond recognition. We had to bring Pádraig to Germany to get treatment not available in Ireland at the time, so we weren’t even here (and would have been looked after by the Christkind). We weren’t even really living together as a family. And the whole time, we were fearful of something even more terrible than the accident could happen to Pádraig while he was in different hospitals.
We are back this year and you can only imagine how happy we are to be back together, in our own house, this Christmas. Pádraig had a bit of a setback last week which upset us all terribly, but we hope he’ll pull through this, will be with us here for Christmas and will just continue to get better and better and better. We have learned to be patient and grateful for every tiny bit of improvement.
Since we are back this year, and just in case our ‘children’ forgot to write to you, here is what I would like for Christmas.
Please make sure, Santa, that Pádraig gets better again, gets out of the hospital, and recovers to a point where he will regain some of his independence. His is such a great person! He has struggled so much, he has shown us that he really really loves life, even if it is so much more difficult for him now. He deserves all the help you can get him to achieve some independence and quality of life.
His two sisters deserve a huge present. It doesn’t have to be anything material or very expensive. They are unsung heroes because when everybody worried about Pádraig, they were there, in constant fear of loosing their brother, being separated from their parents most of the time, having to organise their lives on their own, and they demonstrated incredible strength and faith in their brother.
Please bring something really nice to each member of our family – they have been our anchor. Without them, our lives would have collapsed. Again, it doesn’t have to be big, just something they want in their lives, something that they have been looking for and couldn’t find themselves.
His friends and our friends deserve the biggest present of all: love forever. You know, we are all so worried about the future, what might come, how we will deal with all the problems facing us as a society. There’s no need to worry if we can just manage to allow Pádraig’s friends to run the future. In my life, and I feel as old as you look, Santa, in my life I have never seen or experienced so much love coming straight from the heart. And the effect of that on Pádraig, on us, and on everybody who has been looking after him has been tremendous.
We were not able to get chocolates and stuff like that for all the people who have been caring for him over the past year in hospitals, on his trip to Lourdes, in rehab centres, and at home. I’m sure your helpers made sure they got loads of sweet things anyhow. But if you could, with your magic, spark their enthusiasm to continue to work from their hearts with empathy, to do the best they can do for their patients and clients, I think that would be the best present for them.
I hope you don’t mind I have a few wishes myself: please give the best wife of all the strength to continue being the rock in this often very stormy sea, let her feel our love even on difficult days. Give her and myself the calmness, the rage, the balance and the persuasiveness, the sharp minds and the physical strength to help Pádraig on his incredible journey; help us to find land or a house, and money to build An Saol.
Finally, and I know one should never ask for too much because that would be greedy, Santa, but if there was any chance, I would like to travel with Pádraig and see the world because that is something we all have always enjoyed so much. Maybe we could try a trip in Europe, but the biggest dream of all is a journey in an RV to see Alaska. A friend of Pádraig’s gave him a present of a guidebook to Alaska. I’ve been reading him out of that book and I know he would really like to go. I promised him to go and will have to keep that promise.
Sorry for this never-ending letter, Santa. You must be so busy these days and the last thing you need is adults writing these loooong letters to you, rambling on like there was no tomorrow.
You know, we need every help we can get to make An Saol, a meaningful and exciting life, for Pádraig and all the other people with severe brain injuries as well as for their families, a reality. So please don’t look at this long list as being greedy. I believe in you and in your sincere and very deep-founded goodness, and I’ll be happy with whatever help you can give us.
Happy Christmas to you and Mrs. Santa!