Sentimental Sucker!

There is a television commercial from the mid-80s for Folgers Coffee that still runs (now in an updated form) around the holidays.  The scene opens in the morning, with a college-aged guy entering a quiet home.  The youngest family member wakes up, and after a happy hug, the two of them head to the kitchen to brew coffee.  Steam lifts through the sun rays that pour through the window.  Mom and Dad and older sis smell the coffee and come downstairs…only to be overwhelmed by emotion when they see… “Peter!!”

It gets me every time.  Every.  Single.  Time.  I get all verklempt and the tears come, because Peter is home for Christmas, and they just weren’t expecting him.  But after 20 years, shouldn’t I be expecting him?  Why does this TV commercial still make me cry?

It’s because I want it to.  I am a sucker when it comes to being entertained.  Give me a good sob story, and I’m hooked.  Even when I know I’m going to be a mess, I read or watch on.  The dialogue in my head goes something like: “this is going to be really, really sad.  I should turn this off.  I should stop reading this.  I’m going to be so sad!  I’m going to cry.  Really, I need to put this book down!”  But I persist.

Some authors are particularly good at reeling me in (my first sob-out-loud read was THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson).  I’ll never forget how heartbroken I felt.  What power storytellers have!

One of my recent favorite authors in the “I am going to make you do the ugly cry” category is John Green.  I know I am a bit late to the “I love John Green” party, but maybe you are too.   He is a talented author of young adult fiction.  I decided to read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS after seeing it on numerous award lists.


Well, from the first scene, you know you are going to be sad.  I mean, the book starts at a support group for kids with cancer.  It’s not like the author is trying to be sneaky; you know where this is going, right?  But you read on.  Knowing it will be painful and tear-filled, he reels you in with his delightful way with words and characters you want invite over for dinner.

Many writers say it’s hard to know how to react when people say things like, “I loved your book!  It made me bawl my eyes out.”  Ummm…sorry?  The truth is, those writers should feel free to say thanks, because deep down we want them to break out hearts.

Whether I know what’s coming or it’s a complete surprise, get me crying and I’ll love you for it.

And because I know you too, dear reader, will fall for it, click here to have Peter come into your home:

Folgers Peter Commercial.

You’re welcome!

11 thoughts on “Sentimental Sucker!

  1. Thanks for the tip, Mike. I just put it in my Netflix cue, and am already feeling that strange “sucker” thrill of knowing I’ll see something that moves me to tears.

  2. Loved and still love that commercial! If it makes you feel any better I cry through parts of the Polar Express movie. When Santa comes out I’m grabbing for those 10 kleenexes! Must add that book to my list.

  3. Jill – I love that description: a “10 Kleenex book”. Would work well as a rating system. “I give this book an 8 out of 10 tissues.” Cheers to your cuppa!

  4. MOCKINGBIRD by Kathyrn Erskine recently did this for me. When I talk to kids I sometimes call them 10 Kleenex books:) So glad you did this review, I often hesitate to read in this category of books and yet BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA is one of my all time favorites. Also, it’s 7 a.m. and yes, by chance, I am drinking a cup of Folger’s coffee!

  5. I remember you telling me you met Katherine Paterson and whatever you were saying after that I never heard, because I was thinking “OMIGOSH she met Katherine Paterson!” 🙂

  6. Thanks, Marilee. Happy to “see” you here. Yes and Yes on Wonder and Murphys! Also recently read See You At Harry’s with one hand clutched to my throat the whole time. I like how you describe them as “healing tears.” That is so right.

  7. Loved this, Nancy!
    I, too have loved Peter and his annual homecoming for many years 🙂
    If it’s an ugly cry in the best possible way you are looking for, I’m guessing you’ve read Wonder by R.J. Palacio – oh, my – every emotion you can think of and lots of good, healing tears! I guessing you’ve read Lynda’s One for the Murphys as well – I loved it!
    Happy to have found your blog,
    Marilee Haynes

  8. A whole lot of us moms are suckers this way. 🙂 I LOVED that commercial as a kid–it reminded me of my older brother. As a mom, now, I loved it in a different way. I knew exactly what commercial your were describing–thanks for the link.

    I love your choices of books, too. FIOS is an amazing read–a book I almost devoured with dread. And BRIDGE is masterful; Katherine Paterson is the master/mistress of portraying intense, understated emotion. She is also one of the kindest, most down-to-earth author superstars I have ever met.

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