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I miss my children. All I want fron Santa is smiling faces

Joseph Gregory is from Arklow. He is married to Siobhan and they have two daughters, Erin (12) and Tara (10). His working life is spent in Germany.

"I work in Dusseldorf as the general manager for a Japanese company, selling industrial products across Europe," he says. "I have been in this role for seven years and it has become a way of life for me. Having no family here means I spend the whole week focusing on work -- travelling within Europe or to Japan and frequently staying late in the office.

"The key for me is getting back to Ireland as often as possible -- without this I would be lost. Being at home is where I reset myself and feel part of a family again."

Joseph makes a point of ringing his wife or Skyping the kids on a daily basis. But he still feels like he is missing out on the important milestones in his daughters' lives.

"I call home every day to talk about the daily events with Siobhan," he says. "But I do miss the little incidents which happen to the kids when they are very young -- teeth falling out, accidents, and funny things that happen during the day.

"I also feel like I am missing out on their development -- not seeing the small steps they make in school or with their hobbies. I have missed too many ballet shows and dramatic performances -- I miss seeing them grow up."

"My financial situation is okay, but I will have to keep at it for now until things improve in Ireland -- whenever that might be. Worst case scenario would be packing up altogether -- but that's a last resort."

But with Christmas fast approaching, thoughts are of a positive nature as the 45-year-old prepares to head home for the holidays.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the family, getting some rest and having a couple of pints of Guinness. I'm sure my wife will be looking forward to me doing some cooking for a change," he laughs.

"It's a really special time for me and all I want Santa to deliver is a few pairs of socks and lots of smiling faces."

Wife Siobhan is also looking forward to having her husband around for a fortnight.

"I do miss having someone to share the day-to-day responsibility of parenting the children -- when Joe comes home he's the fun parent and I'm the 'mean mummy' as I'm always the one in charge," she says.

"So I'm looking forward to handing over the reins. And, of course, it will be great for us to be together for two weeks so we can have a laugh together and drink a few glasses of bubbly.

"And I'm looking forward to playing with him and hearing his jokes," says daughter Erin. Younger sister Tara agrees: "The best thing about Christmas is Daddy coming home. We will get lots of big hugs."