The story of a single mom and her tween son at Christmas is captured in an emotional ad for McDonald’s UK
One thing it seems no one tells new moms is just how fast it all goes. Ok, scratch that, plenty of people say it but in the haze of newborn feedings, sleepless nights, and chasing energetic toddlers, it’s easy to brush off the cliche sentiment. Well y’all, as the mom of two big kids, I am here to say through my near-daily tears over how fast it’s happening — it’s true. One day you have a tiny kiddo shuffling down the hall in their footie pajamas and the next, a gangly tween who allots you one grudging hug per day and eats all of the groceries in less than 48 hours.
It seems McDonald’s sees us “big kid moms” and in their UK Christmas ad, they cut to the heart of what this season means for those of us who’ve sadly moved on from having kiddos who clamor to sit in Santa’s lap. Be warned that even if your children aren’t quite at that age yet, this will probably leave you in a puddle of sobs.
Set to a haunting version of “Forever Young” by singer Becky Hill, the ad follows a single mom and her tween son as she tries to get him into the holiday spirit. It starts with her bringing a box of homemade Christmas decorations to the doorway of his room to see if he wants to help hang them. His “inner child” breaks into a grin and claps his hands while the tween on the outside retreats further into his hoodie, breaking his mom’s heart. And mine. Seriously, this ad is a lot.
She then tries to make him laugh by donning a pair of reindeer ears and he just shoves in his AirPods and pretends not to care — though his inner child certainly does.
The pair then hit a McDonald’s drive-through where something inside him decides to let himself be a kid again. He smiles quietly and tucks a bag of cookies from his meal into his pocket for later. After getting home, his mom hits him with a snowball and there’s a moment where he’s clearly conflicted about whether to continue his cool teen act or submit to letting himself be little again. The inner child wins over and he lobs a snowball back.
The two go inside where he gets out the box of his handmade holiday decorations and they hang them on the tree. Then, mother and son snuggle on the couch. When it’s time for bed, he gets up and starts to walk away, but remembers the bag of “reindeer treat” cookies he’d stuck in his pocket earlier.
They set them out for Santa along with a glass of milk and the ad is over along with any semblance of chill I had been clinging to. The tears they are a-flowing.
My kids are 13 and 11, so our days of piles of toys under the tree are effectively over. I still see glimpses of their “little” selves once in awhile and if they so much as mention a toy looks cool, it goes into my Amazon basket (like the pair of Mandalorian lightsabers I bought last night after hearing them talk about how cool they looked). The young kid years feel never-ending when they’re happening — the early mornings, late nights, constant requests for snacks, sippy cups, and another episode of Thomas the Train can wear on a mom’s soul. But I am here to tell you as I listen to my pair of middle schoolers argue over who’s “sus” while playing Among Us — they go by in a literal blink. Now, I would give anything for those excitable babies who couldn’t get their Santa notes, written in wobbly block letters, in the mail fast enough.
This ad gets right to the heart of what so many mommas are feeling this time of year as their kids grow taller and moodier and seemingly less likely to need us. This ad shows what we big kid moms already know — they need us just as much, if not more, than they did back in the diaper days. They still want to feel held and safe and loved, even if it’s not the cool thing to do. Let’s snuggle them as long as they’ll let us and be there for those brief moments where we can see them be “little” again. Especially at Christmas.