McDonald's Holiday Ad Will Have Parents Tearing Up About How Fast Their Kids Are Growing Up

It all goes by so quickly—too quickly. And this ad gets right to the heart of that.

mother holding up son to put ornament on christmas tree
Photo: Getty Images

I never thought a fast-food commercial would make me tear up, but here we are. McDonald's UK just released its Christmas 2020 ad and let me tell you, you should have tissues ready.

The video features a mother and son in various scenes. The mom knocks on her son's door with her arms full of Christmas decorations; he opts to keep playing a video game instead. She goofs around in a pair of reindeer ears; he's not amused. Yet at every turn, you can see the boy's inner child light up with total joy.

They treat themselves to meals from McDonald's, and you see glimpses of that inner child come out in the grown boy, especially when he pulls a pack of reindeer treats from his McDonald's bag. Without using dialogue, the ad makes a pretty powerful statement: That the inner child is still there, even after our kids have grown up—and parents will still be able to catch glimpses of it every now and then.

It gets even more poignant from there: The son and his mom have an impromptu snow fight before snuggling on the couch. But before they head to bed, the boy pulls the reindeer treats from his pocket, grabs the Christmas decorations, and spends some quality time with his mother. It's a really heartwarming scene, especially because you can see so much hope on the mother's face through all of this—and, if you're a parent too, you can probably feel those emotions as though they're your own.

Something that's really wonderful about this ad is that it'll really make parents of older kids and teenagers feel seen. They're so often left out of public conversations about parenthood (by contrast, there is a lot of focus on the newborn and toddler stages) and the focus on this life stage matters.

But all parents will resonate with this. Unlike the mom in this ad, I haven't seen my kids transform from enthusiastic children who think their mama is the coolest person in the world to sullen pre-teens...yet. I'm still deeply in the toddler stage, but I get it: Because every time I put away clothes my babies have outgrown or glance through old pictures, I feel in my gut how quickly it all goes. And no matter how many times I was warned about it, nothing could fully prepare me how staggeringly fast children grow—or how incredibly emotional those warp speed changes are for their parents.

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