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Apple's holiday ad delivers a beautiful song from the heart

For the holidays, Cupertino could have shouted from the rooftops. Instead, it delivers a beautifully understated homage to a girl, her grandmother and music.

What could have been overwrought, turns out to be perfectly melodious. Apple/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When you've had a good year, it's tempting to crow at its end.

The holidays come around and you might, if you were Apple, offer chants and hosannas in your last ad of the year.

Instead, the company offers a simple story of a girl who wants to give a loved one something special. She finds an old 45 rpm single of her grandmother singing "Love Is Here To Stay" a cappella.

So she has the idea of using Apple gadgets and software to turn that song into a duet. Then she leaves the result -- with a note and an iPad mini -- on the breakfast table.

It's beautifully played by the two characters. What could have been a schmaltzy, gooey affair is instead understated and personal. There's no cloying Christmasness, no cliche in sight.

At Christmas, the thought really does count more than the shriek of delight or the glut of gifts.

This deceptively simple piece manages to express that one simple idea can triumph over a plethora of lesser ones -- something upon which Apple has based much of its ethos.

I fancy that many whose family lives ebb and flow in uncertain patterns will see this ad and be unable to fight off a tear.