I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I find that this time of year feels fragile.
I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong. But these days I recognize a comingling of joy and sadness that envelopes so many during this season. It’s a giant heap of emotion as we sort through the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad of the past year and try to make sense of where we are right here, right now, in this moment of time.
So when I saw Chevrolet’s new seasonal ad last night, I was completely undone. “A Holiday to Remember,” is really more of a short film than an advertisement—and a tear-jerking one at that, as it follows the story of a grandmother struggling with dementia.
Maybe it’s because we’re all a little more sentimental this time of year, or maybe it’s because so many of us are in a season of life where we’re watching our own parents and grandparents age . . . and we realize how hard it is. Either way, this commercial hit me in all of the realest ways.
The scene opens with a bustling Christmas family gathering. The house is full of people, laughter, conversation, and kids running around giggling and playing.
Two little girls run into the house, “Hi, Gramp! Where’s Grams?”
He points them toward the back room, where they excitedly take her the present they have in hand. Only . . . she doesn’t respond to them and instead stares blankly out the window. It’s a moment that anyone who has experienced the heartbreak of dementia or Alzheimer’s with a loved one is painfully familiar with.
“How is she?” a woman in the kitchen asks Gramps.
“Good days and bad, but the love is always there,” he replies in a choked-up voice. “Some days she doesn’t even recognize me.”
Ugh, cue the lump in my throat and the ache in my heart.
Overhearing this conversation, Gram’s older granddaughter walks over to her chair. “Let’s make today a good day,” she says, as she helps her stand and walks her out to the garage where a classic Chevy Suburban waits.
With a turn of the key the ignition fires up, and a cassette tape of “Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver comes over the speakers.
At first, the young woman makes one-sided conversation with her silent grandmother. But as they drive through town and pass by various landmarks of a life well lived, Gram’s memory starts to come alive with flashbacks.
By the time they arrive at an abandoned drive-in movie theatre parking lot, the duo is sharing memories and laughter. “Gramps says this is where he first kissed you,” the granddaughter says.
“No,” Grams replies right away, “I kissed him. He was far too shy.” And then as her memory turns to the present day, urgency fills her voice “Bill! I need to see Bill.”
Back at the house, Gramps meets them at the car. He slides into the front seat beside his bride and tears fill her eyes as she recognizes him. “Oh, my love. It’s good to be together.”
Annnnnnd, I’m bawling. Watch for yourself, but grab a tissue first:
I don’t know who writes these commercials for Chevy, but GIVE THEM A RAISE—because their Christmas ads always hit right in the heart.
Here’s the thing: holidays aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. They can be beautiful, yes, but they can be painful too. Grief, health issues, financial strain, loneliness, tough family dynamics, and countless other struggles don’t just take a pause because it’s Christmas—in fact, sometimes they sting even more on that day.
But maybe, just maybe, the hard can also coexist with the joy of the season. Maybe even when the holidays feel hard, we can choose to soak in the love of those around us and point our eyes and our hearts to what matters most. Maybe there’s always a reason to feel a little bit of sunshine on our shoulders.