There’s no harm in wishing for a better year than the procession of misery served up by 2016, writes Jonathan deBurca Butler
It has been a funny old year. 2016 has taken away some of the brightest starmen, some of our most handsome princes and our funniest deputy sheriff. In return, it has offered us uncertainty, antagonism, suspicion and belligerence. In the 1987 movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko told us that greed is good”. Almost 30 years on, and with the election of Donald Trump we discover that apparently crude is good too.
Or at least it’s something that can be waved away. It seems that fact and truth have suffered a similar fate. In every corner of the planet from riots in Brazil and Venezuela to the tension in South China Sea to the Middle East there is potential for large-scale conflict. And yet like every other year there are always chinks of light.
There are always days when brave men and women with no money and no political agenda search the rubble of hate and indifference to save the very humanity that others with their self-anointed providence wish to destroy.
There are the days that Leicester City win leagues. The days that you finally beat the All Blacks. The days that you stand under a tree surrounded by the people you love and live near and watch as the lights go on.
As we bid adieu to 2016 we decided we would ask the great and the good of Irish society what they would love to see delivered on Santa’s sleigh this year. This is what they said.
Whatever you did last year, just don’t do it
- Colm O’Regan Irish Examiner columnist & author
Dear Santa, My first request is that whatever you did last year, just don’t do it.
Something upset the macrocosmic balance of the world 12 months ago and nothing has been the same since. Everyone who was any use died, voters went off-script and now, everyone’s cousin is going to be deported from America and the border in the North is going back up.
So just think back to the presents you delivered last year and never do that again.
Also if you do something to remind people of the original meaning of words that would be just like, legendary and epic of you. I know language is constantly fluid and changing but literally has been officially recognised in an emminent dictionary as meaning “not literally”. It’s like saying “down means up”. A good first step would be giving them a copy of my book Bolloxology, expressly written to counteract this sort of ... well bolloxology.
Can you provide some inspiration to a commemoration Industry that will be champing at the bit for something to celebrate in 2017.
We have LITERALLY nothing to centenarise except for a few by-elections. Unless we look further afield and have a festival to celebrate the USA declaring war on Germany but the way things are going, the USA may actually declare war on Germany anyway during 2017.
Santy, bring a little less to those who don’t need it
- Cormac Ó hEadhra presenter of the Late Debate on RTÉ Radio 1
Santy, a chara,
You’re some geezer. You’re some operator. We’ve had a subprime crisis, Lehman’s collapse, a financial swirl and a property tumble, Brexit, Trump and more… and you can still provide the same delivery service worldwide.
I’ve asked you for your secret every year, but I know you’re not going to spill the beans this year either. I’m just happy you include me on your list.
Anyway, this year I have a long list – get ready.
Firstly, I’d like a new hurley. I really feel the Galway senior hurling team will strike gold this year and I want to be ready in case I’m called up. (I know, I lack talent and fitness and history in this area, but you’ve got to dream Santy, a mhac!).
Anyway, if I don’t get a call up for Galway I can use it if Trump ever returns to Doonbeg. (I didn’t say how I’d use it!) Also, I want a box of patience … make it a large one. You see, I deal with politicians a lot. I like them, but Santy, put them in a radio studio with a microphone and they turn into different beasts.
Experts at answering questions that weren’t asked at all! I’ll take the patience by the spoonful or in tablet form if you have it.
Finally, and seriously ... especially this year, bring a little less to those who don’t need it and a lot more to those who actually do. Our politicians call that progressive … but, of course, you’ve known that for years.
Go dté tú slán Cormac
It’s about time we quit wringing our hands
- Maia Dunphy columnist, journalist, documentary maker, and author
Dear Mrs Claus,
As the saying goes, behind every great man, there’s a great woman, so I thought I’d cut out the middle-man altogether and write to you. It’s been pretty obvious to me for some time that you might be the driving force behind our favourite seasonal stalwart.
With regard to what I’d like, I’m not going to ask you to solve the world’s injustices or stop families with children capsizing in the Mediterranean. Because it’s about time we quit wringing our hands, expecting someone else to do the right thing when there’s so much more we could do ourselves. If there’s any way to give people the gift of stepping up and taking responsibility, then stick us all down for that.
Failing that, some Lego and a footspa please.
PS Without telling tales, the reason your man isn’t hungry when he returns home on December 26 is not, as he might tell you, down to exhaustion and having had “a nibble on a carrot and a takeaway latte on the way back”. Your husband will probably consume half a year’s worth of calories during his trip and at least half of that will come from booze. But this year I believe many children, encouraged by their parents, will be introducing Santy to “clean eating”, so for once, he may actually be hungry on his return.
Can I have a loan of your sleigh and your reindeer?
- Marty Morrissey RTÉ Sports presenter and commentator
Dear Santa, Just wanted you to know that I’ve been a very good boy this year. I did everything my mother told me to do and everything my bosses in RTÉ asked me to do.
As you know I primarily travel around the country commentating and reporting on GAA matches from Ballybofey to Kilkenny. That’s an awful lot of driving, to be honest, Santa, from February to October.
So I was thinking, Santa, you could help me big time in my travel arrangements and it wouldn’t cost you anything really: No presents, no financial outputs, no manpower hours lost to the North Pole economy.
In fact, Santa... you could consider it a loan.
So here’s what I want this Christmas, Santa.
Considering you only employ Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and my favourite Rudolph on one night a year, can I have a loan of your sleigh and your reindeer for just a few months of 2017? I’ll mind them really well.
I’d love to fly your sleigh and arrive at GAA venues like Semple Stadium in Thurles, Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon, or Croke Park Dublin. I could land on the roof and after that... Well, I’m not too sure how I would get in to the commentary box but I’ll come up with a plan.
I really would love to fly into the brand new Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork when it opens next June. Wouldn’t that be so cool? Rudolph with his big red nose and the rest of the reindeers could whizz me though the skies over Mayfield, Togher, and Douglas (where I used to live) before landing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh to rapturous applause.
They can live with me in Rathfarnham in Dublin during the winter and spring, and during the summer I’ll bring them on holidays to west Clare — or West Cork if they prefer.
Clearly Rudolph is a Cork supporter so Santa can I please have a loan of your sleigh and the reindeer, just for the championship from May to September? You can have them back on the night of the third Sunday in September after the All-Ireland football final. I promise.
I can’t wait for your response.
Love you Santa,
This Christmas I want world peace, I know that is a really big ask, but you delivered every year for me
- Henry McKean Newstalk 106-108FM Radio Reporter and presenter
Growing up in the UK we called you Father Christmas, the term Santa was considered American and ghastly.
I asked you for a Lego Airport and you delivered it to me.
I lived in Kuwait before the first Gulf War and I saw you on a motorbike in the sand dunes and that was the last time I have seen you in the flesh. Santa you were good to me growing up.
In my stocking I always received oranges, a Toblerone and socks.
Even though I’m a 38-year-old fully grown adult, you still came down the chimney and left me presents.
These days I’m not so demanding...
This Christmas I want world peace, I know that is a really big ask, but you delivered every year for me.
So stop the war in Yemen, Iraq and Syria and I would be very happy. I want poor families to feel happy and could you stop giving spoilt brats gifts they don’t need, maybe spread the wealth a little.
Can you give a home to every homeless child in Ireland.
Please don’t give me an LCD TV or a 171 new car, two material things I don’t need.
Santa could you lose some weight, I’m worried about your belly and your heart.
Please sprinkle magic dust on my little Dafne
- Derval O’Rourke athlete and Irish Examiner food writer
Dear Santa, I hope you are well. It must be a very busy time for you. I hope you have a nice holiday planned for January to recover from your busy season.
This Christmas when you visit my house my one-year-old daughter will be tucked up in bed fast asleep. Her name is Dafne and she is the sweetest little girl you will meet on your travels. I would like a happy and healthy 2017 for her so if you could sprinkle some health and happiness magic dust on her that would be wonderful.
We’ve just moved into a new house and it’s looking very bare. If you have any spare furniture please feel free to leave it as a Christmas gift for me. Although I doubt that would fit in your sleigh.
If you are looking for stocking inspiration my new book The Fit Foodie will be a great stocking filler.
Good luck with the Christmas rush and we’ll have a lovely plate of snacks and glass of milk waiting for you in Cork.
Love Derval xoxo
Marriage equality for everyone in this world would be fantastic
- Alan Hughes Presenter Ireland AM & actor
Dear Santa, It’s been a great year so far and I don’t want to ask for too much, but I’m playing Sammy Sausages once again in the panto Aladdin and full houses of smiling families would be all I could wish for. For me and my panto family, the Tivoli is like Christmas every day. Children arriving in their princess dresses and Christmas outfits are a joy to behold, so please make this year’s show another fantastic year for cast and audiences alike.
I officially married my partner of 23 years, Karl Broderick [with Alan, below right] , in September — oh by the way Santa, it was himself who wrote the panto. Marriage equality for everyone in this world would be fantastic. Amnesty international describes marriage as a human right, and I’d wish this for Northern Ireland especially.
In many countries homosexuality is punishable by death and women’s rights are a disgrace. I wish for equality for everyone this Christmas.
And, as all kids say, when they reel off the 17 things they want... ”and a surprise”, haha.
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