This year, German grocer Penny is giving hope for Christmas

—Craig Redmond is a fan of Christmas, but not so much of Christmas advertising. Except for the grocer Penny, which has gotten it right two years in a row—

Humanity versus Covid; BLM versus Systemic Racism; Truth versus Trump; School Children versus the NRA; Sanity versus Brexit; #MeToo versus Injustice; Earth versus Climate Change; Refugees versus Ultranationalism; Reality versus Antivaxxers; Democracy versus Insurrection; Ukraine versus Totalitarianism; Roe versus Wade; Truth and Reconciliation versus Genocide Denial…

In no intended order of societal impact, historical significance, or human gravity, we have endured a relentless surge of tragedy and conflict over these past few years that has made this the most divisive time in history, or at least during our own collectively fleeting time on this planet.

There are mornings when one wonders why we should even bother getting out of bed and opening the drapes, knowing we will only be greeted by yet another clash of violently opposing beliefs tearing family, friends, and ultimately, civilization asunder. It has been utterly gutting to the very depths of our core.

So, Happy Holidays!

Forgive me. Here I go again, sounding like Bob Cratchit’s boss ridiculing the festive spirit with a belittling barrage of bah humbugs. But don’t get me wrong. I love and embrace this time of year, belting out every carol, religiously devouring each minute of It’s a Wonderful Life, and inhaling every last trace of frankincense and myrrh. It’s just the marketing blitzkrieg—as I’ve bemoaned before—that I struggle to welcome with open arms.

With the odd notable exception.

Last year, for instance, I was stopped in my winter boot tracks by a holiday season spot that felt anything but. I was dumbstruck by its honesty and raw generosity of spirit. A holiday spot that told the story of a mother’s simple Christmas wish—that her son’s adolescence, despite all its likely future frights and fails, had not been stolen by the pandemic. No happy family reunions or holiday hordes of plenty. Just the bone marrow, truest meaning of Christmas: Love.

The Wish

Perhaps most surprisingly about that unexpected gift under the marketing madness tree was the brand behind it: A relatively unknown discount grocery called Penny, originally out of Germany and now with 3,000 or so stores across Europe. Who would have thought?

That’s why I was excited to see a new Penny Supermarket spot pop up again this year, beating Santa to the Norad radar screen.

And once again, they’re not pulling any punches, addressing the very divisiveness I lamented about at the beginning of this holiday lament. But then undressing all that toxic dissonance by bridging our divides with the other word that helps define the true meaning of Christmas: Hope.

The Rift

Happy early holiday greetings, all. Here’s to the healing it hopefully brings.

Craig Redmond