Every year as the holidays near, a new batch of ads from virtually every business on the planet hits the airwaves. Some of them are cheesy. Some of them are emotional. And some of them catch you off guard on a random Friday afternoon because dang it if your mama heart doesn’t know EXACTLY what that feels like—and it makes your chest ache.
That’s what happened to me when I heard this Hobby Lobby ad in the middle of a Fixer Upper rerun. There I was making dinner/filling the dishwasher/cleaning off the piles from the counter—doing all that unseen work of motherhood with the accompanying stream of holiday consciousness:
I have to make a Target order for the class party supplies I signed up for.
I wonder what happened to my daughter’s basketball jersey—I haven’t seen it since last week’s game.
I forgot to schedule dental appointments for Christmas break and now I bet they’re all filled up.
I can’t remember where I put the wreath hook for the front door and I really need to dig out the lights from the basement to see how many replacement strands I’ll need this year before they’re all sold out.
You know how it goes.
But it was the quiet that turned my attention to the television flickering in the background of my busyness.
And the Hobby Lobby ad responsible for it? Well, I’m not one to spill tears over commercials, but there may have been a lump in my throat and something in my eye when this one minute was through.
In the ad, we see a woman in scrubs getting ready for a day of work. She tosses dirty laundry in a basket as she makes her way through a darkened living room with a sparse Christmas tree in the corner, pulls a video game controller from the shapeless form of a sleeping teenager, and stacks dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. She returns to the teen and kisses him silently, then climbs into a frosty car to drive to a shift at the hospital.
In the next scene, her teenage son pours himself a bowl of cereal. As he eats, he notices the laundry basket filled with haphazard clothes and the Christmas tree with one lonely ornament. We see him in a pawn shop selling game controllers, and we get a glimpse of his mother at work looking tired and busy as she charts in a busy hospital hallway.
Back at home, the teen gets to work decorating the tree and wrapping gifts. To Mom, From Sam, he writes on a gift tag with a smile.
When his mom climbs the front steps after work, she notices a glow coming from the windows and a wreath on the door. As she steps inside, her son, dressed in a collared shirt and red sweater with (and my fellow moms of teen boys will understand the significance of this) neatly combed hair stands by the tree. Surprise spreads across her weary face as she takes in the scene—a decorated tree, the same clothes folded in the basket she filled that morning—her son shrugs with a slight smile.
The final shot shows the two hugging through the window, and the words “Christmas is what you make it.”
If you’ve ever had one of those days when you feel like you’re not doing anything but spinning your wheels, when you have so many tasks undone, and on top of it all, there’s that special brand of holiday anxiety in the mix (am I making it magical enough???) you’ll feel this one.
Have a watch for yourself:
I have a son about the age of the boy in this commercial, so maybe that’s why it speaks to me so deeply—but I think Hobby Lobby absolutely nailed this one.
Raising a son becomes something entirely new when he grows tall enough to look you in the eye. That little boy you knew is a memory, and so many of the magical Christmas moments seem to have faded away with him. He needs your physical presence less and has his own interests and habits that often leave you weary. You find yourself wondering if you’re doing any of it right. Have you raised him well? Does he notice anything you do—or only what you don’t do? Does he still feel your love?
It’s a whole thing, this boy mom life. This mom life.
But what this ad so beautifully brings to life is the tender thread of love that remains, no matter what. The everyday moments of a simple, good life add up. They drive a mother to sustain her family in every way she can, even as it shifts through the years and circumstances. They lodge deep in a child’s heart and shape his very being, even as he tests his wings.
And if the 28 million views—and counting—on this Hobby Lobby ad proves anything, it’s that a simple life of love and the little things is what Christmas magic is all about.