Every single year, we all obsess over the multitudes of Christmas adverts on offer – and 2016, despite being one of the bleakest years to date, has been no different.
But they all pale into insignificance when compared to the utterly emotional, and utterly important, Alzheimer Research UK advert.
Created by Aardman (as in, yes, the people who made Wallace and Gromit), it begins in much the same way as any other festive tale; a little girl, named Freja, who is getting ready for the Christmas celebrations to begin.
However the little girl, notes narrator Stephen Fry, has grown up in a world without Father Christmas – and it’s all because he’s locked himself away, after being left overcome by the effects of dementia.
“He began to mix up presents, and muddle the names,” explains Fry, recalling Santa’s final few Christmases. “He seemed sad, distant, and afraid. Year by year, things got steadily worse, until, finally, he stopped coming all together.”
However Freja is unwilling to accept that the story ends there.
Instead, she wraps up warmly and heads to the North Pole, inspiring his redundant elves to find a cure that might help their beloved employer.
“If Santa has a disease, research can find a way to fix it,” she tells them.
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It is her meeting with Father Christmas, though, which has been deemed the most upsetting part.
Sat alone in a chair, his suit all faded to grey, the once-jolly St Nick is a shadow of his former self. And he barely responds when Freja whispers in her ear that she believes in him – and, more importantly, that she believes she can find a cure.
Watch Santa Forgot for yourself below – although be warned: it is only being aired after 9pm on televisions, due to its upsetting content.
“Santa is an important cultural figure, but the idea that he too could be affected drives home the point that dementia can strike those most special in our lives,” said Hilary Evans, the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
She continued to explain to The Telegraph: “We have to be provocative about dementia, to help fight misconceptions and fatalism around the condition and to demonstrate that pioneering research holds the answers.
“We have made enormous strides against diseases like cancer and Aids, and with the right research we can do the same for dementia. The advert reminds us to believe in the power of research.”
Thousands of people have since taken to Twitter to share the message: “I believe we can defeat dementia...do you?”
Others have taken to donating a £1 to the charity – 76p of which will help to power the research needed to develop a treatment for the disease.
And why? Well, because the advert has reminded them that dementia can strike anyone; more than 850,00 people in the UK alone have been diagnosed with the disease, and, according to Alzheimer’s Society, that number is set to rise to over a million by 2025.
If they develop a treatment by 2020 that could delay the onset of dementia by just five years, that would mean 450,000 fewer people with dementia – and 400,000 fewer family carers.
“Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and it can affect anyone,” says the charity.
“But everyone can play a part in fighting back this Christmas.”
Inspiring acts of kindness: