It seems like there’s a new trend this holiday season, and it has nothing to do with the latest toys on department store shelves. Every glance at my facebook news feed, every other article I scroll across as I try to catch up on “news” seems to be blaring the horns of persecution against Christmas. It started out with Simon Malls and their decision to update the Santa Picture displays at certain locations.
These new “Glacier” displays were modern and white. While not appealing to everyone’s sense of Christmas Cheer, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would find offense in the clean white lines and futuristic design. But they found a way. Before long petitions flooded my email with declarations of descriminiation and accusations that Simon malls were trying to do away with the meaning of Christmas, to take the holiday away from Christians and turn it into a politically correct display void of any specific tradition. Despite Simon Malls statement that this was not an attempt to do away with “Christmas”, but simply a new and exciting display, good Christian people took to social media to declare they would never again shop at a Simon Mall. I, for one, wholeheartedly agree. Imagine how nice holiday shopping will be for the rest of us without the crowds! Of course, Simon Malls quickly swapped out their glacier displays for more traditional holiday fare, and all was quiet in the land of self righteousness… at least for the evening.
This morning dawned with a new target however. Starbucks has changed the design of it’s iconic holiday coffee cup. Instead of snowmen and snowflakes customers will now be carrying around a plain red cup. I’d barely brewed my own cup of coffee (Starbucks Christmas Blend, if you’re curious – a strange product to be selling when you’re trying to stamp out any mention of Christmas, don’t you think?) before the accusations started flying. First there was this guy who uploaded a video on facebook claiming these new red cups were taking Christ out of Christmas. I don’t even know where to begin here, but I’ll try.
First of all, we’re talking about a coffee shop, not a church. I’m pretty sure no one really holds Starbucks as an authority on the Christian Faith. Secondly, past Starbucks holiday cups have featured snowmen, sledding children, ornaments and ice skates. Last time I checked none of these things were in that manger where baby Jesus was born. I’m not really sure which of those things is supposed to reflect the spirit or represent the true meaning of Christmas.
Now, let’s get down to why all of this is problematic. The internet is no stranger to crazy, so why should this Starbucks debacle matter to me? Well, for one, because I’m tired of the world seeing Christians in this light. I’m tired of being lumped in with these people who go out of their way to make Christians seem like a bunch of self absorbed, self righteous, ignorant people.
Not all of us are like this! Some of us don’t care what’s printed on our coffee cups. Some of us don’t care about the backdrop being used in mall Santa photos. Some of us are working hard to keep Christ in Christmas every day and it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with what we drink or how the places we shop decorate. Some of us are busy filling shoe boxes with items for children in need, or scheduling time to volunteer filling bags at a food pantry. Some of us are picking up extra hours at work to get the perfect gift for someone we love. Some of us are concerned with a million other things as we pick up our morning coffee. Some of us save our outrage for things that matter. Things like war torn countries and children who die from treatable illnesses because they don’t have access to vaccines. Things like homeless veterans and people living without access to clean water. Some of us need more than a plainer-than-usual coffee cup to get up in arms. Do you want to know what the real threat to Christmas is? It’s these people on Twitter attacking companies like Starbucks and Simon Malls. It’s the people who make our Faith seem so out of touch, who make our Faith a joke.
So, as Joshua Feuerstein encourages his facebook followers to “prank” Starbucks by telling them your name is “Merry Christmas”, forcing the barista to write it on the cup – I have a challenge for you myself. Instead of wasting your time “pranking” some unfortunate barista who’s probably working hard to afford their own Christmas festivities, try one of these suggestions as a show of your Faith instead:
- Fill a shoe box with gifts for a needy child through Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Church
- Prepare a Winter Care Kit for homeless and needy people in your area.
- Find and volunteer at a local food pantry.
- Call a local elementary school or church and ask about donating winter coats to families in need of them.
- Bring help and hope to impoverished families by replacing traditional Christmas gifts with a gift through Heifer International.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor or friend, just to put a smile on their face.
- Offer an elderly neighbor a ride to church on Sunday.
- Start a collection of hats and gloves for a nearby homeless shelter.
While we’re at it, let’s use the hashtag #ThisIsOurFaith on Twitter to spread the word: there’s more to CHRISTmas than coffee.