To the children of Syria,

Thank you for your letters and for the attached Christmas lists. I thought it only courteous to reply to you all, given the efforts you have taken to get in touch. As a matter of fact, I’d hoped to reply to you all individually as, frankly, there are so few of you left I supposed it wouldn’t be too great a strain on my purse and resources, but even then, many of you have no permanent address, so this is easier than trying to track you all down. I mean, if the EU hasn’t a clue where you are, how should I know?

Unfortunately, I will be unable to visit Syria this year. In fact, I won’t really be able to fulfil any of the wishes on your lists.

Alas, though many of you have asked, I’m not really in a position to sanction the Islamic State for their brutal devastation of your country. Normally what I do to punish badly behaved children is give them sacks of coal, but I’ve had to review this policy as, over the last hundred or so years, people have wised up and used these sacks to run power stations. This has, as you can imagine, made a lot of bad children immensely rich; I only became aware of what they were up to after Blitzen was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2012. Besides, as I understand it, the Islamic State is already making millions of dollars every day in exchange for its vast oil reserves; I’m not sure I want to help diversify their fossil fuel portfolio by giving them coal.

Normally, I’d send the demon of Christmas, Krampus, to deal with those really naughty children, such as Bashar al Assad. When he asked for Sarin gas and barrel bombs a few years ago, I made him promise he’d behave, but he’s just not kept his side of the deal. Again, however, I must disappoint you children, as there is little I can do to make him stop either. Krampus, who recently changed his name to ‘Krameron’, was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and has spent his time since turning it into a German folk tale to feel more at home. You know the one, about Hansel and Gretel? Whose evil stepfather Iain kicks them out for being benefit scroungers, leaving them with nothing but arts degrees and mountains of debt, and forcing them to turn to a gingerbread foodbank run by a wicked old wi- sorry, Theresa May? Well, anyway, Krameron isn’t returning my calls and refused to invite me to the premier of his new film because I didn’t put Lord Ashcroft on the naughty list (he’s one of my largest donors, and frankly, the stories he could reveal about what I got up to at the Piers Gaveston… ) so it looks like that’s a no-goer.

If I’m honest, I’ve just been swamped by some of the other requests. The Labour Party asked for a new leader, and I sent them lovely Liz Kendalls and Chuka Umunnas, but they went out and bought a battered old set of Soviet Russian dolls in the sales instead, and gave them the job. Very, very poor quality, but then I guess it’s all about vintage these days. I don’t remember Dianne Abbotts or Ken Livingstones being especially ‘wavey’ in the 80’s either, but what do I know? Well, anyway, the dolls broke, and now they’re asking for a new leader again. I don’t really have much, but then evidently it doesn’t take much to impress these people, so I’ve managed to cobble together a Hilary Benn, a copy of Roget’s thesaurus, and Oldham for their stocking. Though then again, some might think of that as worse than a sack of coal… maybe I should have given Oldham to the Caliphate? Surely that’s a worse fate than being bombed by the RAF?

Anyway children, I had thought about giving you Chukka Umunna and Liz Kendall to be your new leaders, but you’ve suffered enough. I’m still ever so sorry about sending Anthony Blair to be your peace envoy. So, so sorry.

Sir John Chilcot has asked for more ink and paper; he’s been doing this for some time. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t for the fact that his Christmas letters to me are always written on the back of drafts of Hunger Games erotic fan fic. I’m not saying he’s the one writing it, but if I have to read about President Snow’s Coriolanus one more time… well, anyway. He’s promised he’ll use this batch to finally hammer out that inquiry of his, but it’s a dilemma for me, as Blair writes every year asking that I try to prevent its publication. Perhaps if Sir John wrote the Iraq inquiry as erotic fan fic he’d be more likely to get it done? I’m sure Anthony would be happy, he’d far rather people read about those kinky ‘dodgy dossier’ bits and that poodle role-play than, you know, alleged war crimes.

To Aliya, 6, from Aleppo, no, I can’t get Zayn to re-join One Direction. I won’t be responsible for another crime against humanity.

To you kids in Raqqa, Stella Creasy MP has asked for a Safe Space® free from the harassment of people calling her nasty things on the internet for wanting to bomb you all. Unfortunately, she got her letter in before your requests for a Safe Space® from the civil war came through; I only had one Safe Space® left in stock (they’re the thing to have this Christmas, I wish I’d bought shares a few years back) and it’s first come, first served I’m afraid. Maybe you can have a Safe Space® next year? You know, if you’re still around, or unless Stella needs another one. Happily, I was able to procure William Hague those Yeezy Boosts he wanted; they’ll help him get that roadman look he needs if his Grime career is going to really take off… but count yourselves lucky you’ll never get to experience it, even if it does. Benedict Cumberbatch will also be pleased: as a progressive leftie all he’s ever wanted was to play a powerful transgender character in an avant-garde Finnish thriller, and Zoolander II ticked all those boxes. I pulled a few strings with Ben Stiller (who owed me big time after that Tropic Thunder car crash) and helped him land the role; I suspect it may be the one to define him. I wonder how it’ll be received.

Finally, children, I must apologise once more, as I will be unable to solve your food shortage either. As you may well be aware, the agricultural crisis in your country that triggered the civil war is, the Guardian tells me, a result of something called ‘Global Warming’. It has affected not only the people of Syria, but also here up at the North Pole. Melting ice caps have wrecked my land’s infrastructure, and flooded my workshop. As I write, water is lapping around my ankles. The remaining reindeer have had to swim for it, along with Mrs Claus, from whom I have not heard for some months now. The majority of my elf workers fled across the sea over the summer, in makeshift dinghies mostly made of wrapping paper and discarded nutcrackers, hoping to reach Sweden which, I’m told, has pretty lax immigration laws, and so I intend to join them there; I should have been off weeks ago, but had to deal with the West’s Christmas lists first, and then discovered the elves had buggered off with all my gear. They took my sleigh as well; irrelevant really, given the reindeer had gone (stupid bastards) but it’s made it difficult enough to reach Europe, let alone visit Syria. Besides, even if the sleigh hadn’t been commandeered, overcrowded and sunk off the coast of Iceland, I couldn’t have flown to you anyway, as I’d have been identified as a Russian plane and blown from the sky by the Turkish air force. So I’m sorry, children, but it’s just not happening.

It’s at times like this, however, that we must give thanks for what little we have. Mrs Claus’ demise at sea hurt me, but then I remembered what the women in Sweden look like, and suddenly I feel rather invigorated for the journey ahead of me (ho-ho-ho!). I’m told also that you have 70,000 moderate fighters on the ground, ready to protect you at a moment’s notice, so that’s something to be grateful for, surely? I mean, again, no one seems to know exactly who or where they are, but why would a government make up such a statistic?

You know what? It’s a shame I can’t visit you all and make your lives a little easier, but I promise you I will. Soon. Just as soon as democracy kicks in, which should be… well, any time now!

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. I know, I know, I’m supposed to wish you Happy Holidays in case you or others find Christmas offensive, but maybe if older people spent a little less effort being offended, you’d have a holiday worth looking forward to.

Santa Claus.

Oh, P.S, if you do see something bright in the sky on Christmas Eve, don’t be confused, I won’t have found a way of getting airborne by then, it’s not me; it’s the United States’ Airforce. Or the Russians. Or it could be white phosphorus. Either way, I wouldn’t hang around to find out which.