Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death

There are plenty of things I find offensive. Coffee cups are not on that list.

If there is a “War on Christmas” (which I doubt), we can attribute it to the crass commercialization that has absconded with a religious holiday and created an economic machine that drives a great deal of our gross national product. Sadly, we have come to expect a “Merry Christmas” on everything from soup bowls to bath towels. If you truly want to keep Jesus as the reason for the season, you might want to reconsider whether there should be a Merry Christmas label on everything under the sun. You’ll find it if you look. How do you feel about boxer shorts or scanty little thong underwear that say “Merry Christmas?” Not only are those items in poor taste, they sincerely denigrate a religious holiday.

I have written before about the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays.” I absolutely do say “Happy Holidays” and I mean it, because it is a catch-all greeting appropriate to use when Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s all roll into a single event that lasts for weeks on end. I also say “Merry Christmas” when I mean to say it, at Christmas time. Not at Thanksgiving and not at New Year’s.

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to shorten the Christmas season so that we can really appreciate it for what it is? Can’t we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and keep that feeling in our hearts year-round as it is intended? Or do we need retailers to tell us that we have to give up our completely non-secular national day of Thanksgiving to head to shopping malls and big box stores because four weeks is not long enough to get our Christmas shopping done?

Starbucks image via PBS.org

Starbucks image via PBS.org

Starbucks got it right. They created a very simple, yet festive, coffee cup for this very long and drawn out holiday season. It is designed to offend no one. A Jew, a Muslim, or a Buddhist can enjoy a cup of coffee without feeling as though they have been beaten over the head with a secular religious holiday that is not their own.

Statistically, Christianity has grown in the United States. The US Census Bureau does not ask mandatory questions about religious affiliation, but it does collect information that is provided on a voluntary basis. According to the 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States, the number of US residents who claim to be Christian has grown by more than 14.6-percent in the past 20 years. In fact, all religious affiliations have reported an increase, except Judaism, which is down. In this country, there is no war on Christianity and no war on Christmas.

If you’re offended over a coffee cup, I strongly encourage you to stop for a moment and consider how you would feel if you were actually oppressed. Think about the throngs of migrants pouring into Europe to escape persecution in Middle Eastern countries. Consider the cultures where women are truly second class citizens and treated as personal property. Think about children living in poverty in this country and around the world who go to bed hungry for nights on end or maybe don’t even have a bed to sleep in.

Here’s a reality check: the things that are most offensive are not inanimate objects, they are behaviors. Bigotry is offensive. Hate is offensive. War is offensive. Poverty is offensive. Purposeful damage to human beings, animals, and the environment is offensive.

There is a lot of injustice in this world. A coffee cup has nothing to do with it. If you disagree, meet me at Starbucks and we’ll discuss it over a Venti Blond Roast.

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