Best Buy, the nationwide big box electronics store, is raising some ire this year with their “Game On, Santa,” ad campaign. In this series of ads, moms are seen raking in deals on electronics when the store clerk mentions, “Guess Santa has some competition this year.” The next thing you know, the moms in each of the ads is seen taunting Santa, knocking the toy Santa off the roof, pointing at the dog as if Santa is fit only to fill the canine stocking, or other mean-spirited gestures.

I understand Best Buy’s strategy here. In a sense, they are saying, “We know that moms don’t get the credit they deserve at Christmas, having to pretend Santa is the one bringing the big gift.” And just in case the wee little ones are watching, they even have the jolly ole guy make an appearance to validate his existence. They didn’t want moms to have any explaining to do.

So, if Best Buy is trying to give props to moms, why in the world are all of them so outraged?

For one, the commercials make them look pretty snarky. In one of the ads, the mom stands sipping a hot cocoa watching Santa struggle to find room in the stocking for his gifts. “Awkward, isn’t it,” she says sarcastically.

But I think this ad also reveals something about a lot of us that we don’t want to face: we really have made this a season about giving the perfect gift and less about receiving the Perfect Gift.

Imagine an ad campaign in which the words, “Game On, Jesus,” flash across the screen. That’s really the heart of the matter. It’s actually no offense to a legendary jolly man that gifts are really purchased at a big box store. But the fact that we’ve allowed the birth of the Messiah to be hijacked by corporate greed, well, too bad we don’t have that staring back at us from the television.

I have mixed feelings about the ads. I’ll admit that they make me laugh, seeing poor ole Santa being attacked by desperate housewives. And as I have read through the very strong reactions many people are having in online comments (just Google “Game On Santa Best Buy” and you’ll see what I mean), I’ve actually begun to like the ads even more. One lady suggested that beating up on Santa is like beating up on a charity. “Who’s next in the crosshairs? Toys for Tots?” she asks, in an over-the-top response.
But I also feel the sting of these ads, even though I don’t have kids and I rarely shop at Best Buy. I do, however, spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect gifts for friends and family at Christmas. And all of the wrapping and the card sending and the cookie making and the decorating can consume me. So much so that I let it distract me from waiting for Jesus.

But that’s why I light candles and pray prayers and read ancient texts during this time of year. There’s so much more to this season.

There really is.
And I am my own worst enemy when it comes to being distracted and side tracked.

Game on, Charity.


There are so many wonderful Advent posts you MUST visit, including these from the High Calling Advent Writing Project:

Journey Toward Epiphany’s Making Room for the King

Photo of me and my friends, Verray and Mandy, with Santa from last Saturday’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk in downtown Indianapolis by a kind stranger.