A recent promotional by the Deseret News Utah County Bureau asked children between the ages of 6 and 11 to answer in 25 words or less the following question: "The best present this Christmas would be . . . "

The Bureau received a number of answers from children throughout Utah Valley. Most of them answered in one word: Peace.It has been many Christmas seasons since children in the United States have had world peace on their minds. Lately, their thoughts have been on funny looking masked turtles who fight crime, dolls born in a cabbage patch, and a few years ago they were asking Santa for Star Wars dolls and Rubick's Cubes.

Now, some children are asking for their dads (and moms) to be safe in the Saudi Arabian deserts - a request that probably hasn't been on many wish-lists since Vietnam.

It was a real eye-opener to this contest judge to read some of the youngsters entries. They include some of the following:

- Eleven-year-old Beth Weaver said the best present would be Happiness.

"Happiness would make this world a better place."

- Her sister, Doreen, 9, added that the best present would be that the "soldiers in Saudi Arabia would be fine, and that there would be peace on earth and no more wars and no homeless people."

- Christopher Howard, 11, said the best present would be for the, "soldiers and hostages to be home for Christmas. Their families are sad that they are gone. It is not fair."

- Ten-year-old Boyd Stout said, "Peace in the Middle East so the soldiers could come home and have Christmas with their families".

All of these and the many others show a profound concern by our children for the world around them. One 6-year-old girl said the best present this Christmas would be, "that we could remember Christ, that is what Christmas is for."

I suppose that most of Santa's helpers sitting in those bright red suits lined with white fur and a big black buckle, will be inundated by requests for dolls, blade skates, Nintendo games and bicycles. But now and again they will also hear the simple pleas from children who just want to have a loved one home for Christmas and no more wars.

As adults we could ask for numerous things. We might ask for help with the recession, congressional budget woes, food shortages, natural disasters.

But after I read so many of the contest entries, I think perhaps 11-year-old Alisha Thomas said it best:

"The best gift this Christmas would be a second chance. Everyone would like to go back and correct a mistake they made or just do something differently."

Alisha, I suspect there are many of us, around the world, that would love to find that present under our tree this Dec. 25.