I just want a few more Christmas wishes, Santa

The commercial machine has been cranked up since October, putting Christmas pressure on even the most carefree families – and there are many who are struggling for various reasons. Spare a thought for them, Santa, writes Leona O'Neill

Santa, pleas sprinkle some of your magic dust on the homes of families who have lost a loved one or who are struggling with money

Dear Santa,

Leona O'Neill here. You probably remember me as Leona Breslin – I corresponded with you seasonally from the years 1979 to around 1985. You may recall me asking you for things like world peace, functioning fairy wings and a real pony for my back garden.

I note that you ignored these requests and instead furnished me with Barbie's poor cousin Sindy, a smattering of fairytale books, jigsaws and a rocking horse that when I arrived down on Christmas Day ruined my new My Little Pony pyjamas as the paint was still wet. Very shoddy work, Santa. But sure, I've forgotten all about it. Really, I have. Well at least I vow to let it go if you grant me a few Christmas wishes.

A few people have left us this year; there have been a few beautiful lights that have gone out. God called my friend Martin McCrossan, beloved grandfather, father and son of my city, home in February. I miss his smile and laugh terribly. My friend's two little boys will miss their beloved mother this Christmas after she was taken too soon.

Another friend lost her husband, another his son, another had to bury her brother. There will be an empty seat at their table this Christmas and all around them will be painful and cruel reminders of the massive void their loss has created. I know only too well that Christmas this year will be something to endure rather than enjoy. Santa, if you could make sure they are enveloped in the warmth and love of their family, are granted a little peace in their heart and a hope that things will get better.

Santa, we all need to realise that this time of year is very hard for some people. Not everyone has lovely families to lean on; not everyone's homes are as happy as the TV adverts portray. People dealing with alcohol, drugs and mental-health issues will still be dealing with them on Christmas Day as they do every other day.

Please work with the Big Man up above and shine the light of love of them, give them strength to stand tall, know that they are loved, that things can and will change for the better, and help them to walk into the New Year with a determination to get help and get well. Life is so hard sometimes. Help them know that we are all cheering them on, that we want them to win.

Santa, this time of year is really tough for some parents. You have created an impressive reputation for yourself on consistent and excellent present delivery and little kids who don't get much, or nothing at all, get to thinking that they have been looked over because they were 'bad'. I don't mean to criticise, but your slick operation has absolutely zero relation to real life and does not reflect these times of austerity.

The commercial machine cranks up in October and doesn't stop until the end of December. Not everyone can afford even what they need. There are little kids going to school hungry and with holes in their shoes. Some parents have lost their jobs, some are not having luck finding work because there is none, some are really struggling to feed their kids and heat their homes and Christmas adds another dimension to their stress.

Please sprinkle some of that magic dust on their homes; help them realise that love, not material things, matter. Give them hope that things will not always be this gruelling; things will get better. Give them the strength and courage to keep moving forward.

If you are giving out smites and bags of coal keep a few for the politicians who say my beautiful gay friends are not allowed to get married and can be 'cured' through prayer. If you could also make sure they burn their sprouts to the bottom of the pan and that their roast potatoes look like they flew too close to the sun that might make them remember that all love is beautiful.

Big smites for those who voted to bomb Syria and unleash Hell on the innocent of that land. And no presents for those people who protest over allowing refugees into the safe haven of our shores. All of these people have surely violated the rules of niceness and should be placed on the naughty list for all eternity.

Awful, unspeakably cruel things have happened this year in our world, Santa. While we count ourselves lucky to have food and a warm home for our children to sleep, some little kids will wake up in freezing cold, draughty tents in refugee camps or have to take shelter from the bombs raining down on them in Syria.

I know you don't have a lot of scope in this area, Santa, but if you could let those poor people know that not everyone means to hurt them, that there are more people standing up to their government, gathering supplies for refugees, saying prayers, standing in the street protesting at these atrocities and that we will not stop fighting for them and doing everything in our own individual power to make their voice heard.

I don't want anything myself, Santa. I have everything I need right here with my family, my friends, my health and a firm and positive plan for the future. Anyway, from previous experience I've realised that if I ask for a show horse, you'll get me a pair of roller skates, so I think I'll pass.

Thanks big man!



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