German supermarket Edeka released a Christmas commercial last week, and it went viral after being posted online. If you have not seen it as of yet, I recommend you go watch it, but I’ll give you the short version.
The ad opens with an elderly man listening to a voicemail from his adult daughter making some excuse as to why she would not be coming to see him for Christmas.
A few scenes pass in rapid succession and we see the elderly man spend three Christmases alone. He grows more saddened and desolate with each passing year.
Following this, viewers see all three of his adult offspring told that he has died, and they and their families reunite for his funeral.
Spoiler alert: A few frames later, they walk into their father’s home to find him alive and well, in an unexpected plot twist. He comments, “How else could I have brought you all together?” And, in typical feel-good Christmas advertising fashion, the family is overjoyed and sits down to enjoy a meal together.
Now, I really do not enjoy having my emotions toyed with. I avoid most “feel-good” movies like the bubonic plague. I will change the channel if an ASPCA or Save the Children commercial comes on television. I have even banned my family from ever showing the movie “Pay it Forward” in my presence. But this commercial struck a chord with me.
Although this is a German advertisement, the overall idea can be applied to the American society.
After all, we live in a culture where importance is placed on having careers, staying busy and, to be frank, a sense of selfishness.
Just as the individuals in the commercial made excuses not to see their aging father, we tend to make excuses not to do things that are supposedly important to us.
Are we really so busy that we can’t make time for these things? Is it absolutely necessary for us to stay this busy?
Of course not. That’s a rhetorical question.
Also, I’m not talking about the people working minimum wage and barely getting by every month—we know why these people are so busy, and that’s a topic for a whole other column (stay tuned).
I’m talking about solidly middle class America. Despite the old adage, “less is more,” people tend to live by the idea that more is more.
We keep working harder and harder in some attempt to gain more and more—wealth, material items, notoriety; you name it, that’s probably something people are working toward.
This drive and need for validation is starting to get in the way of what truly matters in life.
Family time gets sacrificed for overtime. Hobbies are abandoned for the sake of being promoted or getting a raise.
This isn’t the way life should be.
While it was not an entirely correct or ethical choice for the father in the commercial to fake his own death and stage a funeral in order to see his family, who was more wrong: he, or his children who neglected to make any time for their father over the course of at least three years?
While it might be unrealistic for someone to fake their death to this measure for any reason beyond something occurring in a James Bond movie, the actions of his children aren’t quite so unthinkable.
This holiday season, take some time to actually enjoy the holidays. Spend time with family. Do something you enjoy. Spend time with the friends you haven’t seen since God knows when. And carry this thought into 2016. After all, you shouldn’t just spend time with your family and friends for the sake of a holiday. Make an effort all year round. Make the time.