Many companies this Christmas have been exposing the holes that exist within so many families and embracing the real and raw situations that are painfully highlighted every year for a large lot of us – and it’s winning everyone over.

For myself, Christmas used to be a happy time as a stress-free kid. However, when my parents split up throughout High School, it took a toll on the whole family as you just don’t realise how much of an impact it’s going to have until the significant days of the year roll around.

For me, the first Christmas as a broken family was met with tears from my Mum as my Dad left to go see his brothers up North – it was the first time in over 20 years that Christmas had been different.

I know so many people have separated parents, but even the smallest of situations can make for a fragile holiday. I was at least lucky that my parents got along, and we could spend Christmas morning together – but while it’s gotten much better over the years, the dynamic is still somewhat strained and awkward.

For many people, Christmas is a very difficult time to navigate, and it can be for a range of reasons.

It could be that loved ones aren’t there, money has been an issue, you feel like you can’t be yourself, or you’re battling something else and companies are only just holding it together.

People are expected to be joyful. It’s everywhere. In the streets, in the malls, in the office – but it’s often just a painful reminder of something – let’s face it, most of us have baggage and aren’t exactly the postcard perfect family.

In the last month or so, I’ve noticed a trend with marketing and advertising among companies where they’re refreshingly telling the true stories of people who struggle over this period, rather than conforming to the stereotypical image of Christmas. Here are some businesses that have flipped the script:

1. Pantene

Pantene came out with an ad which shows how hard it is for LBGTQ individuals to go home for the holidays, often feeling judged, like they can’t be themselves, companies or like they’re not even safe or welcome. The ad features the real stories of LGBTQ members preparing for the emotional journey home. It highlights Pantene’s commitment to inclusion, family equality and the beauty in all people and in their transformations.

2. Apple

This Christmas, Apple came out with an ad which focuses around the iPad which plays a key role in one family’s holiday experience. The iPad starts as a tool to keep two young girls occupied but is eventually used as a sentimental tool to bring a smile to their Grandpa’s face as he grieves the loss of their Grandma through a virtual photo album.

3. Hobby Lobby

American arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby highlights a single mothers struggle to enjoy Christmas as she cleans up after her teenage son while he naps on the couch before she must go to work. When he wakes up, he notices the sad Christmas tree in the corner of their house and decides to scrounge up some cash to buy some decorations from Hobby Lobby. He also folds his laundry and sticks a bow on top – shock.

Whatever it is that’s making you feel a bit worried – be it the cringe you internally endure when you open up a less than desirable gift, the shock at something your drunk Aunty said, the awkward yarns with cousins you haven’t seen since this time last year, or anything a bit deeper, just know we’ll all bask in the relief once it’s over.

Laura Evans