Samuel Johnson, actor, fundraiser, thinker, optimist, is the brains behind another project to take the Love Your Sister Charity to its $10 million target. This time it doesn’t involve unicycling around Australia to support the fund set up by his late sister Connie, but a more sedate role as editor of Dear Santa, a collection of letters from “Australia’s most notorious and best-loved notables”.
Mr Johnson says the book is entirely in keeping with Connie. “It’s a fun way to celebrate Christmas in a style that would make Connie proud. She had a good sense of humour and the most devilish laugh you can imagine – a devious cackle.
“I think that people will pick out their favourite letters and read them at the dinner table over Christmas dinner table. Certainly that’s what Connie would have done this Christmas were she here.
“And if it’s mine, definitely wait until the kids are in bed.”
Dear Santa is a thoroughly entertaining collection with contributions from a diverse range of personalities.
Mr Johnson explains that he asked “Australia’s most notorious and best-loved notables to write to Santa as an adult, in the name of cancer vanquishment”. He says no-one was paid and that all profits will be spent on cancer research.
Dear Santa is available from all good bookshops, but here are four letters to get you started.
What I want this Christmas is very simple. So simple, in fact, that if you could see my face right now I think you’d guess what it is straight away. The grey, hollow rings. The forgotten-about hair. Last week’s eyeliner still haunting my cheeks. A little bit of something mysterious (food? baby vomit?) encrusted on my earlobe.
It’s something I used to have in abundance. God, that’s the arrogance of youth, isn’t it? We never know how bloody grateful we should be at the time. We spend all those years complaining about chores, homework, love life … the drama and the trauma and the ecstasy! Tumbling over and over on repeat inside our self-obsessed, sleep-drenched, maple-syrup minds.
And we take it all without thought. We steal it from our parents! We steal it from the weekend because we know that we can get it back whenever we want. We take it any which way we can, dear Santa, because we damn well can.
Now I have a toddler and a three-week-old baby. The baby won’t sleep unless she’s on me. Like, literally lying on top of me. My skin must be radiating some kind of heroin-like drug because she’ll fall asleep straight away like this. I put her down in the cot on her back andPING! She’ll open her eyes and start grunting like a constipated piglet or just outright wailing. If there’s anywhere or any position I could put her in that might allow me some sleep, it’s a no-go situation for her. Basically, Santa, she’s not happy unless I’m wide awake, deliriously fantasising about my pre-baby twenties and holding back tears while trying not to tweet about it.
Even four hours in a row right now would be heaven! Oh! Absolute heaven! I shudder to think what I could achieve during the day with that much. I could write a book! Record a triple album! Become the new female Elon Musk and send some shit into space just because I can! Or maybe, just maybe, I could get out of my pyjamas and wash my hair.
Look it’s simple, Santy (can I call you that?) … it won’t take much of your time. Just pause the present-throwing and weird chimney-creeping for a night and come on over here. Knock on the door like a normal bloke. I’ll heat you up some milk – no, it’s not for you – we can put it in the baby bottle and for God’s sake you can do the night shift. Are we clear? All I want for Christmas, Santa Claus, is a little fucking sleep.
Missy Higgins: nine-time Aria winner
Thanks again for allowing me to reach out to you by mail. I sincerely appreciate how old-school you are with your communications. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it can be trying to hear back from the Easter Bunny through his Facebook page. No matter how many likes I give him.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you do. Since I was little you have always remembered to bring me something every Christmas. (That giant Superman doll you got me when I was six was incredible. He even talked!) Even when I had a little one of my own asking for things too, you never forgot about me. (That giant Batman doll you got me last year was incredible. He even talked!)
I was thinking about it all recently and it made me realise something: you dress in a red suit, fly at top speed around the world, and make sure every kid and even grown-ups are happy on Christmas Day. I guess what I’m saying is, to me, you are the real superhero.
Now, up, up and away. You’ve got deliveries to make.
PS If you don’t mind passing on my friend request to the Tooth Fairy, I’d greatly appreciate it.
Rove McManus: triple Gold Logie winner (greedy), whose real name is John
My name is Grant and I think you’re cool. I like to race cars and reckon it’s amazing you can get around the whole world in one night.
Do you ever have to use the toilet in my house when you bring presents? Because you can. As long as you put the toilet seat down because my mum comes to stay and she hates that.
I need to apologise. I’m sorry I hit my teacher in the head with a golf ball when I was in Year 9. I’ve never forgotten it and I’m worried you haven’t either. I’m not a bad boy – I found the ball during an excursion to the park and I just threw it as far and as hard as I could to impress my friends. Turns out, I threw it in the same direction as my teacher, Mr Heard. I didn’t know I could throw a ball 150 metres. Unluckily for Mr Heard, turns out I can.
The ball went so high into the clouds then came down and hit him right on the head. It made quite a funny noise, although it was not funny for long. When he dropped to the ground, I ran straight up to him and admitted it was me, once he regained consciousness. I hope this shows you that I took responsibility for my actions. His six stitches healed up well and I didn’t even get detention. So if it’s okay, let’s not talk about this again.
I don’t need a present this year, but if it’s possible, please bring some rain for our farmers. They grow food for all ofAustralia, so they’re really important people. They need help because some can’t even afford to feed themselves in this terrible drought. Everyone deserves to be able to afford to live and eat.
I have an idea! Maybe when you’re flying in your sleigh you can throw a rope around a cloud and drag it overAustraliato make it rain? They are called reindeer, after all. (That was a joke.)
So, thanks for reading my letter, Santa. Don’t tell Mum about the golf ball incident. Feel free to use my toilet, and thanks for being the best.
Grant Denyer: enthusiastic Gold-Logie-winning game show host
Look, frankly, all I want is a sleep-in and a restful day, okay, but I know how this is going to roll: I’ll be woken up at about 4.10am by the children insisting they have to open their presents immediately; it’ll be 37 degrees in Queensland by about 11am and everyone’s tempers will be fraying in the heat; and by about 4pm, I’ll hate myself for eating and drinking too much.
In lieu of the lie-in I could ask for world peace, but I figure somebody else will do that and the way things are in world politics at the moment, fat chance.
So instead, I’m going to ask for some huge things, and I know you’re not God so these are big requests, but if you could do your best to deliver the following, I’d be much obliged:
My friend Julie has oesophageal cancer. She’s only just retired, her husband Mick is pretty close to joining her and they just want a chance to enjoy some years together after working hard all their lives and raising four kids. If you could get her through this, that would be great.
Also, my friend Grace was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in her early twenties. She’s had the all-clear now for a couple of years. Can we keep that going, please? Into late old age?
And since we’re in this space now, why don’t we just get rid of cancer full stop? Then, next year I can just ask for a Prada handbag with complete impunity.
Leigh Sales: Head of Accountability, ABC
Dear Santa, edited by Samuel Johnson, is available from all good bookshops.