COMMENT: This is a strange time for me. I'm nearly finished my work for the year but my real job begins in a couple of weeks. It's the calm before the storm — or Donner and Blitzen — if you will. All the hard slog is over, and there are just a few details left to be sorted out, involving flight paths and answering the late mail.
But it's occurred to me that after all the years of enjoying your letters, I should probably return the favour and drop you a line to let you know what I'd like for Christmas. And don't worry — it's nothing terribly expensive.
Naturally, I've made a list.
Firstly, I know people think they're boring but stockings always come in handy — someone inevitably forgets to leave one out for me and I go through my spare ones very quickly. No single-use stockings, of course.
Secondly, I'd really like you to have a serious word to your mums and dads about me. There seems to have been some misunderstanding lately about who I am, with people getting very upset if I don't look a certain way. As you can imagine, this feels a bit strange for me because I thought everyone understood I am a fictional character. So, it really doesn't matter how I dress or what I look like or if I'm male or female or anything else.
I'd also like to be more than the once-a-year guy. I know a lot of Christmas is exhausting and, believe me, you've not the only one who struggles to get through the whole thing without a few tears and at least one meltdown. But the things I really like about Christmas aren't stressful.
I know people can find families hard work at this time of year, but there's an easily fixed reason for that. It's because it's the one time they force themselves to spend time together. If they hung out a little more regularly, there wouldn't be so much pressure on that one day to be perfect.
Tell you what I don't want any more of — the whole naughty and nice thing. I've no idea where that came from and it just seems to have got completely out of hand. Obviously, I think you should be nice not naughty. But why would I worry about kids behaving badly in a world where so many adults behave so much worse?
People sometimes ask me why I spend most of my time with elves and children. Well, the elves are a total crack-up, if you must know. And I prefer children because adults are so complicated that I have trouble making any sort of sense out of them.
But I don't want you to feel sorry for me. Being Santa is a pretty sweet deal. Anyone can do the important bits: anyone can be kind, generous, thoughtful or even jolly.
Basically — and it really is very basic — I'd just like people to be nice to each other. All the time, not just in order to get a present.
Some of you may think all this doesn't matter. That maybe you don't need Santa in your world. Maybe you don't. But, you know that person who said it's better to give than receive? Take it from me — he was right on the money.
So if you think the fact I don't really exist means I don't matter, think again. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I might be fictional, but I'm 100 per cent real.
I know you're not supposed to believe in me past a certain age, but I think the world would be a better place if people never stopped.