The new Starbucks holiday cup offends me. No, not my Christian sensibilities, but my creative sensibilities. Its minimalist approach has well been done before… the Hefty red solo cup which has been around since the 1970s. It’s boring and lacks originality. Personally, I would prefer something a little more creative when a company unveils a new design. Its boring but functional design will not stop me from buying a peppermint hot chocolate or two from Starbucks this holiday season.
The cynic in me wonders whether some Madison Avenue marketing firm hired Joshua Feuerstein to claim that the red cup was an assault on Christianity and evil Starbucks was trying to remove Christ from Christmas. Whether it was his intent or not, Feuerstein will most certainly drive up Starbucks’ revenue.
Why would a red cup offend anyone? After all Starbucks, like other coffee shops, is the purveyor of fine beverages and refreshments not of Christianity. That job belongs to the pastors, ministers and priests of the world. I am baffled as to how someone can be angered by a ho-hum of a design, a boring red cup and equate that to an assault on Christmas, Jesus Christ and Christianity. Perhaps the marketing team at Starbucks are sheer geniuses in creating a faux controversy over something most people toss in the trash can without even recycling after they are done using it.
Think of the films that became blockbusters after Christians called for a boycott of the film. Boycotts that were at least based on theological and moral differences not a cardboard red cup. Feuerstein will undoubtedly increase Starbucks revenue because after calling for a boycott he called for an annoyance campaign by encouraging other like-minded Christians outraged over this faux campaign against Christ in Christmas to go to the purveyors of evil and order a beverage from the unsuspecting Starbucks barista (wink, wink) and force them into writing a Christmas message on the much maligned red cup by telling the barista their name is Merry Christmas. This maneuver harkens to days gone by when in middle school we all thought “Is your refrigerator running?” and “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” prank calls were hilarious. We would burst into laughter and respond either “Well, you’d better go catch it!” or “Then you’d better let him out!” Hysterical in middle school not so hysterical or original as an adult.
I do however believe consumers, Americans and others, have the right to vote with their wallets. In fact I encourage it. I consider both voting in the voting booth and voting with my wallet to not only be my rights but also my civic duties.
In theory, I support Feuerstein’s right to boycott Starbucks or any other company because their values don’t align with his Christian values. I stay away from a certain discount big box retailer because of the way its employees are mistreated and because the role this retailer has played in flooding the American marketplace with cheap products manufactured in China. I also opt to buy American made products whenever available because I believe in keeping manufacturing jobs in the Detroits and Allentowns of my country.
Perhaps, what Feuerstein wasn’t counting on was that there would be a counter reaction to his call for a boycott. My reaction to this boycott, which I find to be just ridiculous, is to go out and make a Starbucks purchase or two that I wasnt planning on in support of Starbucks, the brand and its employees. Besides, I want to drink from the red cup for myself and see whether it invokes the spirit of holiday unity or the anti-Christ in me. I’m kind of counting on neither happening and my grande mint majesty tea tasting pretty much the same as it does in the iconic Starbucks white cup.
This is one of those times that begs the question: What Would Jesus Do? I’d like to think that if Jesus was walking the earth today he would be an environmentalist and Starbucks red holiday cups wouldn’t matter because he’d be purchasing his pumpkin spice latte with all the other cool kids in a reusable travel mug.
- Greet everyone you meet with a joyful Merry Christmas. I think you will find most people will respond with a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday of their own. You may get the occasional person who will explain that they do not celebrate Christmas, respect that and move on wishing them a good day.
- When you are shopping for your Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham, pick up an extra one or more and donate to your local food bank, Salvation Army, United Way or charitable organization that prepares holiday food baskets for the needy.
- Stay out of the stores on Thanksgiving Day. Even if retailers push Black Friday into Thanksgiving, push back. This is voting with your wallet. If the retailers don’t make money by opening on Thanksgiving they will stop doing that and let their employees enjoy time with their families on a holiday that is supposed to be about thankfulness and gratitude.
- Drop by your local emergency room, police station or fire station and leave a basket of goodies and/or coffee for our first responders.
- Write a letter, send a Christmas card or send a Christmas care package to one of our nation’s servicemen and women who will not be home with their families for the holidays,
- Go to a K-Mart or Wal-Mart on the day Christmas lay-aways are due to be picked up. Ask the store staff to help you find a customer’s lay-away that isn’t going to be picked up and pay the layaway off so that the store can call the family and tell them to come get their order because a kind stranger has paid it off for them.
- Visit a local nursing home delivering poinsettias to residents especially those who don’t get visitors.
- Donate toys to Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, a family shelter or countless other agencies in need of toys for the needy children they serve.
- Donate canned goods to a food bank.
- Invite an elderly neighbor to join you and your family at your holiday dinner table.
- Check with your local church and find out which family in the church needs help with bills, food and Christmas presents. Pay a bill, donate food or Christmas presents and do it anonymously.
- Attend a Christmas fundraising event for a community organization that works with the poor, homeless and needy.
I for one, intend to do as much as possible this holiday season to connect with the real reason for the season. And, on Christmas Eve you will find me at midnight mass singing Silent Night with my red holiday cup of peppermint hot chocolate in hand.