irish ideas “niall mcelwee

Jonathon the Christmas Goose: Observations one year on

The editors, Brian and Thom, asked us regulars to write a short column this Christmas reflecting on the past year “and what a lot can happen in a year! Twelve months on from this time last year, I find myself writing my regular column from a new town, in a new apartment, working in a new college, doctorate in hand (finally!!) with a baby on the way in the new year. I have managed to pack in quite a bit since my pet goose Jonathon made the Christmas table in Limerick last December 25th. Unfortunately, I am not going to receive any livestock from my Masters student, John, this Christmas as he still hasn’t forgiven me for last year’s debacle. I, of course, still blame my wife Susan as it was her idea to eat Jonathon despite my protests otherwise. [See the saga of Jonathon the Goose from 2000]

During the year I had the opportunity to present some papers at major conferences in Calgary, Canada and in Drogheda Ireland and met many regular CYC-NET contributors from Ireland, the UK, Scotland, Canada and the United States. People whose names regularly appear on my nightly correspondence were there in the flesh, in glorious technicolour. Some have now joined the Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies as associate editors so the world continues to get smaller and smaller.

I feel reinforced as the struggles in Ireland in relation to child and youth care are similar to those in Calgary, Montreal, BC, the Highlands, the Lowlands and in between! There are very fine people working in child and youth care who exist simply for the vulnerable people with whom they work. There are individuals in child and youth care around the world who make a crucial difference in the lives of children and youth who might otherwise be discarded who, themselves, do not hear enough that they are valued, that they are worth their weight in gold on both a personal and professional level.

This Christmas my thoughts are with all the child and youth care professionals around the world who have to work during the festive season ... with the managers who have to roster and arrange payment for their staff ... and with the academics and policy analysts who will spend a good deal of time of their vacation time correcting papers, writing timetables and sifting through hundreds of pages of policy text. One year on, I feel more validated in my own work than this time last year as I have so many new friends that are just an e-mail away.

Have a wonderful and refreshing Christmas vacation. Come back to work with open hearts, filled bellies and with all those good intentions and resolutions that we make each year. Hopefully, in my January column I will be filling you all in about the birth of our first child. If it comes early, it will be one of those Christmas miracles we all dream about.

In peace and friendship.


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