I’m not the first to say this, but what the heck: I really hate those Christmas commercials featuring luxury automobiles.
OK, Audi has a pretty funny one about two guys in sports sedans racing around a parking garage looking for a single open space. It turns out to be a dream, and both men snap out of it when their shopping carts collide in the mall.
I’m cool with that ad, because it’s about regret, a common occurrence during the holidays. You want one thing and you get another and, hey, that’s life.
I tell you what doesn’t happen often: a boy wakes up on Christmas day expecting to see a Mercedes-Benz SUV that Santa has parked in his driveway.
This is quite the Christmas wish because (1) he can’t even drive, and (2) the SUV hasn’t been invented yet.
But he doesn’t give up hope. Every year, he wakes up and looks out the window expecting to see a nifty little snow-covered vehicle that’s just for him. Again, no dice.
Finally, when he’s a grown man, he wakes up and looks out the window and the Benz is there. His dream has come true.
Viewers are not surprised. He’s living in a mansion on a vast estate, and it appears that he can afford this vehicle.
No, what’s surprising is that his wife and children have given it to him as a Christmas gift.
Apparently this happens all the time, at least in Lexus commercials, where the loving spouse tops the gift with a bright red bow, presumably after parking it in the driveway.
I guess what I dislike so much about these commercials is the suggestion that people who are not professional athletes or Hollywood actors actually give their spouses sporty cars for Christmas.
So instead of feeling regret that your wife has dragged you off to the mall – which is a quite normal and even manageable reaction – you’re feeling regret that you can’t buy her a shiny car, or that she can’t buy you one.
After all, those people are really, really happy, and you’re not.
And that’s the big lie, that money can buy happiness. And that something’s wrong with you if you can’t on a whim go drop 60 grand on your beloved.
Which makes me think of something that happened last weekend at my daughter’s graduation. (Yes, I’ve taken another opportunity to mention that my daughter graduated a semester ahead of schedule from the University of Georgia.)
Cary got her degree in elementary education, and she’s getting a master’s degree in urban education and has committed to teach in public schools in Memphis.
She had thought about changing her degree to social work, but realized that she’ll be doing social work as an inner city school teacher.
Anyway, during the graduation in Stegeman Coliseum, about 900 students were sitting in chairs wearing their caps and gowns.
When the president asked the students from the school of business to stand, nearly two-thirds of all the graduates rose to their feet. I was an English major, but I think that’s about 600 students.
Later, he asked students from the school of social work to stand. Actually, student, singular – there was only one student graduating from the school of social work.
She stood and her image flashed on the giant video screen overhead. The crowd roared, and so did the students from the school of business.
It wasn’t something you see in TV commercials, but it was one of those real, powerful things that happen every day and reminds us that, yes, there is hope for us yet.