Leona O'Neill: Dear Santa, please make sure Trump voters' turkey is just a bit dry

It's Santa wish list time and Leona O'Neill is asking the big man for a return to Stormont, hope of a brighter future, and a less than enjoyable Christmas dinner for far-right hate-mongers and their high-profile fellow travellers

"Maybe she'll finally let up about the horse if I make sure Trump voters' turkey dries out"

Dear Santa,

It’s me, Leona. You might remember me as the pony obsessed six-year-old who was bitterly and vocally disappointed on Christmas morning of 1981 when there wasn't a real horse under the tree. I said things I didn’t mean that morning, Santa. I was super cross about the lack of equestrian-related merchandise and about ruining my good My Little Pony pyjamas on the freshly painted handmade pony-size wooden rocking horse that you had clearly constructed during the night. I hope that the passage of time has healed some of the hurt my cruel words caused.

Anyway, enough of the introductions. I want to get down to the Christmas wishes, for I know you’re in the market for them at this time of year.

The big present this year would be to have Stormont up and running. We are heading towards the first anniversary of the latest collapse of the assembly and the future is not looking particularly bright. Our politicians all have things they are fighting for and, rightly or wrongly, those issues are what stands between us and a gradually normalising society.

If there was some magic North Pole dust that you could pump through the air vents up there on the hill to make them reach agreement and to get us back on track, agree on a path, respect each other and work towards a better day, that would be about all I would want for Christmas. Because the alternative, Santa, is really rather depressing.

Another wish I have this year is for a future with a little bit of hope thrown in the mix. I am 42 years old. From the moment I was born into Northern Ireland I have faced uncertainty. My future was always beyond some manner of veil – be that the Troubles, be that a fragile peace, be that political uncertainty. The future could always be seen but we could never actually reach out and grab it.

I suppose it’s how northern Irish people are wired, to not dare to look to the future, never dare to hope for stability. History has taught us that there is no point. It would be great if that could change for our children. It would be great if they could have jobs, investment, hope, certainty and a sense of normality. I know that one’s a big ask, Santa, but sort the first wish out and this one will fall into place.

Santa, I don’t want to tell you your job but I have a few candidates for the naughty and nice lists that I know you take very seriously.

On the nice lists will be my friends who are fighting cancer this year, keeping their heads high and their hearts strong as they face the toughest battle of their lives, not only fighting the disease but often having to fundraise to access treatment in other areas of the world. Give them peace, give them hope and give them a future.

Also on the nice lists will be everyone who is going that extra mile this Christmas to help those who have nothing or no-one – all the cafes and coffee shops and churches that are opening their doors and their hearts on Christmas Day to the lonely, the vulnerable and the challenged. Give them joy in their hearts.

Please add the following to your extensive nice lists – all those who stood up to injustice, those who gave a voice to the voiceless and all those who have pain in their hearts and an empty chair at their table this Christmas, for there are many hurting at this time of year.

And a bag of coal for Donald J Trump, Santa. I wouldn’t have enough room on this page to cite his many extremely naughty endeavours – just trust me on this one. Also, if it were possible to make the turkey a bit dry for everyone who voted for Trump. Just dry enough to notice, Santa, because those people – many of who have lost jobs, homes and hope – believed in a dream sold to them by a showman who fed them fear and the idea of a shiny new America. They were fooled by a fool and many of them can’t be blamed.

Santa, if you could ensure that Jayda Fransen, Paul Golding and Jolene Bunting and indeed anyone with hate in their hearts for their fellow man burn their spuds to the bottom of the pan.

And Santa, I’m still holding out for that real-life pony. I’ll see you on Christmas Eve.

Much love,

Leona, 42 and a half


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