Ah lads. This is torture. It’s not even December yet. We are still knee deep in dreary November and the Christmas break seems so very far away. And yet, every evening I turn into a blubbering mess when I sit down and turn on the TV. The Christmas ads have all been released, each one more emotive and heartfelt than the one before and I find I am sobbing into the cushions every time I see them, much to the amusement of my clearly stone-hearted teenagers. Between the Woodies ad with Mrs Higgins and her squeaky gate, McDonalds with the mother and her teenage son and the magical Supervalu one with the arrival of Grandad, my heart just can’t take it. It’s way way too much emotion for a random evening in November and I haven’t even seen the John Lewis one yet. Frankly, I don’t think I’m able!
So what is it about the Christmas adverts this year that have pushed me over the edge? I mean every year they are heartfelt and meaningful. Yet I am normally able to nod and smile and carry on without being overly affected. This year it appears to be another matter. Maybe because 2020 has been such a year of heightened emotions, stress and alert. Maybe because it feels like the longest year ever. But actually I think it’s the family and the community focus of these Christmas adverts that has been my undoing. Are they always this way? Can’t remember.
The Woodies one hits me in the solar plexus because the quiet, unassuming teenage boy who takes it upon himself to help out an elderly neighbour reminds me of one of my own boys. Strong and hard as nails on the outside yet underneath the brash exterior there beats a heart of gold and a beautiful moral compass. Teenagers, boys in particular, get such a bad press, yet I know better than most how caring and considerate and mindful they can actually be.
And as for the Super Valu masterpiece. There are no words. This brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. The little boy is not waiting for Santa after all. He’s waiting for his Grandad. How special, how magical and how it embodies the true spirit of Christmas.
The thing about the Christmas ads this year is that they have thought about the impact that the global pandemic has had on us all. The Amazon ad tells the story about the ballerina without an audience or a stage whose exquisite dancing reminds us that with determination and perseverance anything is possible. Tesco seeks to reassure us that the naughty list simply doesn’t exist this year and we are to be commended for simply making it this far in the midst of such challenging times. It recognises the ludicrousness of the Zoom calls and the stockpiling of toilet roll that actually nobody admitted to.
You see, I think this year, without the endless Christmas music in the shops, the twinkling lights and festive displays, it’s merely the calendar that tells us that Christmas is approaching. There are no Christmas markets yet to visit, no carol singers and no musical chimes filling the air. So the remaining constant is the arrival of the Christmas ads. Maybe that’s why they are affecting us so much more this year. It’s the one tradition that has remained, the beacon of hope if you like.
The ads make us feel rather than just think. They recognise the crazy mad year it has been, many of us without the family support and the friendship network we rely on so heavily. And they make us realise that all we really long for this Christmas is to be together. Something we used to take for granted now seems such a treat.
So I will keep watching, keep weeping and keep hoping that that this Christmas fills our hearts, not just our hands and that Santa brings me a supply of Kleenex!