Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Forget the ad ... real kids are for life and not just for Christmas

There are going to be a lot of disappointed wee faces across the land come Christmas morning this year. And I don’t mean the children, I mean the parents.

John Lewis, purveyor of lots of stuff, has made a TV advertisement for Christmas that shows a wee lad of seven waiting impatiently for the big day to arrive. Finally, when it comes, he jumps out of bed and rushes into his parents’ bedroom. But he’s not there to show them what he’s got from Santa, no, he’s there to give them a present, from him, that he’s been hiding, impatiently, for weeks and weeks!!!

See? Christmas isn’t all about receiving, it’s about giving too!

Awwwww ...

That seems to be the initial reaction from most viewers. But once you think a little more about it, you realise it sets a worrying precedent.

Never mind the “Bah, humbug!” reaction that was my first thought, “Yeah, right, where did a seven-year-old get the money and the know-how to buy a gift, buy wrapping paper and a big bow and wrap it and hide it from his parents for weeks?”

I mean, really.

But let’s assume he’s a very smart, kind, switched-on wee guy who has actually considered that his parents might be more than mere sources of food, drinks, games, hugs and kisses and clean clothes. I know, it’s a stretch, but let’s try it, for the sake of being nice.

So he has given them a gift. He’s a wunderkind. He’s the most adorable, cutest, loveliest wee creature any parent could ever hope for ...

... So why are my kids not like that?

Surely that’s gotta be the thought that’s hitting millions of those “Awwww, isn’t he just edible!” parents around the country about now.

Next it’ll be a conversation over the breakfast table (do such things still exist, I don’t know, I’m stuck in a 1950s It’s A Wonderful Life vision at the moment). “So, eh, Johnny/Mary/Brittany/Justin ... Daddy and I were just wondering ... is there any cupboard or drawer that we shouldn’t look in between now and Christmas, y’know, maybe a hiding place for “something”, that you don’t want us to find?”

The little brats don’t even look up from spilling their Cheerios and milk on the toys pages of the Argos catalogue that they’ve learned by heart by now, but still enjoy browsing, fixating on just how many gifts they’re getting, knowing that world economic recession doesn’t affect Santa’s present power, so they can have whatever they want.

Parents turn to each other in despair. “What did we do wrong to have produced such awful offspring? We want that wee boy off the John Lewis ad for Christmas, for Christmas!!!”

The nice thing about the John Lewis ad is that it doesn’t spoil the idea of lovely gifts by actually showing any.

In contrast, the Littlewoods ad shows children at a school Nativity play singing about all the lovely things “My Muvver” will be leaving under the tree. And it shows the toys, the mobile phones, the bling-y wristwatches. Hmm ... not so classy.

Gifts are always much more enticing when they’re still wrapped. As John Lewis realise, it’s best to leave some things to the imagination. Who knows, the wee lad’s probably bought his parents a football. I mean, he’s kind, but he’s still a kid.

There, doesn’t that make us all feel better? Awwww ...

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