Maybe it’s because I’m desperately hungover and a chocolate milkshake from Maccies would totally sort me out right now. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been watching E4 for the past six hours and my brain has become a gin pickled Made In Chelsea/Couples Come Dine With Me mess. Or maybe I’m just overly hormonal and broody and still a bit drunk from last night? Whatever’s to blame, I seem to think that what the world needs RIGHT NOW is a blog post on why I love the McDonald’s Christmas ad so damn much.
Because I really do love it.
I’ve bought a stuffed Mog (Sainsbury’s), I’ve donated to Age UK (John Lewis) and I’ve rocked out to You Don’t Own Me (House of Fraser) but I’ve yet to see a Christmas ad that has filled me with as much glee as this year’s simple festive offering from McDonald’s.
Why? Because this is my family, albeit with an extra sister and considerably younger than we all are now.
Every time it comes on I’m 7 years old again, belting out Wizzard on the long car journey to Chester with a boot full of presents, desperately hoping that we might get to stop for chips soon…just waiting for Dad to “give the signal”. Which, much like the Dad in the advert, would come as the most subtle announcement: the faint clicking of the indicator and a knowing glance in the rear view mirror, before the entire car erupts into an “OMG WE’RE GOING TO GET A HAPPY MEAL!” meltdown. As if we hadn’t just had a bag of Cadbury Eclairs 30 minutes before.
Mum wouldn’t have even been in on the surprise, this was all Dad’s doing. His gift to the arduous car journey.
We all have to agree that we’re not going to tell Nanny and Grandad that we’ve stopped on the way and we have to go to the loo quickly, not get distracted in the shop and not even DARE think about bringing our drinks back into the car, but we’re stopping for McDonald’s. It’s happening. It’s confirmed.
Suddenly the six hour car journey and the fact you finished your latest Jacqueline Wilson before you even got to Guildford doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world. Wizzard’s right: it SHOULD be Christmas every day.
Our family was built on long car journeys. I strongly believe it’s why we’re still so close now. I know I’m *extremely* lucky to consider my family unit a happy one (I really do know that it’s a privileged position to be in) and I can look back on so many car journeys with great fondness.
When we were growing up in Surrey, my grandparents lived in Chester. The journey can supposedly be done in four hours, but it would realistically never be under five and I vividly remember it regularly taking eight hours during the holidays, which is of course when we were always doing the journey.
Our summers were car based too, taking the ferry over to France for a driving holiday (now that I am closer to the age my parents were at the time, I have no idea why they would put themselves through this with young children, but I am forever grateful they did) and then as we got a bit older we’d drive the entire way to Mallorca each summer.
We’d do it slowly, taking in bizarre B&Bs in rural France and Spain along the way, and there’d always be some sort of massive bust-up where it was imperative that nobody said a single word so that Dad “could concentrate”, but even those icy silences would eventually be broken with some sort of brilliantly Dad-sanctioned stop off. It wouldn’t be McDonald’s in France and Spain, but it would usually involve a very large baguette and the strange lurid green plastic picnic plates that I only ever saw in our car.
Of course there are rarely opportunities for us to do long car journeys as a four any more, we’re all adults and my sister and I both have partners. We have our own cars and the situation simply never arises. But we did make an effort before I got married last year to do a driving “holiday” just the four of us.
We drove from London to Blackpool for the August Bank Holiday weekend and, in a wonderful and surreal fashion, we all fell into our traditional family roles. Dad very much king behind the wheel, us women singing and laughing but knowing not to push our luck too far. Dad might join in for one song (sudden flashback to him always singing along to Ke$ha’s Tick Tock in California, do you remember that Mum and Heather?!) but that wasn’t a green light to sing ENDLESSLY. We were still very much at his mercy as to whether we’d indeed get to stop for chips or if we’d just power through now that we’re at an age where we’re not at a risk of wetting ourselves if we didn’t.
My parents don’t live where I grew up now, but the upside of that is that I’ll have a nice long drive of my own to get to their house for Christmas Day this year, with my own boot laden with presents. I’m going to drive to my sister’s first and pick her up so we can do the journey together. We’re already compiling the Official Driving Home For Christmas Playlist.
We won’t have my parents in the car, but we may have to stop at McDonald’s on the way to treat ourselves. If we’re not hungry when we arrive at yours for dinner Mum and Dad….now you know why.