It's not Christmas season until someone has to apologize for their Christmas advert.

If you ever needed a bit of convincing that being online too much is actually bad for your brain, look no further than the latest Marks & Spencer Christmas ad. It was released with the usual fanfare, including some stills to tease what the advert might contain. And that’s where it all went wrong.

This teaser image featured one of those very British paper crowns worn at Christmas celebrations. But tossed into a fire. As per usual when it comes to Christmassy things, the colors were red and green. This was augmented with your usual flashy accents like silver and gold. And somehow this was now seen as a Palestinian flag in the fire.
Wait, what? Yes, that happened. And M&S made a public apology But you would have to squint so hard to read into that interpretation, you’d go blind.

So, pretty much as soon as they put the supposed "Christmas hating ad" up, people found some party hats in the fire, and were immediately convinced that the red, silver, and green hats represented "Palestine".

If you ever needed a bit of convincing that being online too much is actually bad for your brain, I believe this is it. I fully understand that the current war between Israel and Palestine is a shocking and frightening development that clearly has made a lot of people rally to express their feelings on the topic, and wishes for civilians not to be hurt or die - which I certainly think that we all agree on - but to get so wrapped up in that to believe that this ad is showing "an Israeli flag" in blue eyeliner, and "a Palestinian flag" in the burned party hats is... how do I say? Absolutely deluded. The Welsh flag is green, white, and red for crying out loud. You don't need to go halfway across the world to attach a different meaning to extremely traditional Christmas colors.

So Marks & Spencer had to apologize, in public, for their ad.

The ad is basically trying to have it both ways.

Throwing away gold/silver party hats in a wood shredder isn’t just a mark of frustration but a new Christmas tradition, at least for the young girl who witnessed this from inside the house. Christmas confetti! Will "elf on the self" go into the shredder next?

That’s why it was puzzling that people who saw the ad for being what it was, a Christmas ad and not a dog whistle for a Middle East conflict, were upset that the ad seemed to be saying "stop with traditions,” rather than "make your own traditions.”

At the same time, I can see how people are very sensitive when it comes to Christmas traditions. I must have written a hundred articles by now where I was offended that Coca-Cola ran their stupid truck ads in Sweden, my country, where we will only keep its competitor Julmust on the Christmas table. Traditions are local, precious, and very susceptible to being destroyed by advertising.

We can’t do anything about what’s going on in the Middle East. And to bring Marks and Spencer into this conflict is just stupid. But tabling that, the annoyance on social media happened so fast and so clearly should be a wake-up call.

At a time when people are supposed to be celebrating get-togethers and enjoying the holidays with friends and family that they were deprived of seeing just two years ago, is not reading the room. People don’t want to throw their traditions into the wood chipper. They want to keep them.

Mother London might be ready to move on from it, but I can see why tons of people got a little miffed.

What bothers me more is the editing and the storytelling. The hostess of a classic cringy Christmas charade party goes from being terrible at that to being on the rooftop, sending the elf on the shelf on his merry way with a baseball bat.

But it’s also strange that the people who are “reinventing Christmas” look like they have children friends and family with them. So there’s literally no reason to reinvent.

When my father died (on the 27th of October) I didn’t celebrate Christmas the "traditional way" from then until the birth of my baby girl. In the intervening years, I reinvented Christmas for me and my mother. We bought all the expensive things to snack on, Russian caviar, exotic imported charcuteries, fancy cheeses, and a bottle of champagne. We then set up our spread and watched only summer rom-com movies for days on end.

And that’s a very recognizable and valid position to feel like older Christmas traditions can not work when you have lost parents, or children, or moved so far away that you can't make it home.

But if you are reinventing just to reinvent? Not so much.

So while I appreciate the idea, I don’t appreciate the execution. Judging by the reaction, it’s not only me. A lot of people enjoy their traditions. And they don’t need Charlotte Square telling them otherwise.

As for the people who read the Israel-Palestine conflict thing into the small details of this ad? They need to go touch grass as the kids say.

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