Christmas "Brew"haha: The Red Cup Controversy

If you've watched the news, logged onto any social media, or left your house at all this month, chances are you've heard all about the supposed "War on Christmas" which is being attributed to the new winter-time cup designs at Starbucks. In years prior the cheery red cardboard caffeine receptacles have been adorned with snowflakes, trees, ornaments and woodland critters in the spirit of Christmas. But this year they are just red, and apparently that is enough to start a war.

Hashtags such as #waronchristmas and #merrychristmasstarbucks have been exploding over all forms of social media as passionately offended people are loudly proclaiming that Starbucks hates Christmas and all that it stands for. People are boycotting, protesting, and going on viral hastagging sprees. Starbucks is now worse than the Grinch who stole Christmas and those cups are basically what only Satan himself would drink coffee out of. Voices all over the internet and media are insisting that you too, as a good American-especially as a good Christian one- should be equally offended. Other people are retaliating on the matter with similar fervor: #areyouserious and #itsonlyacup are on the other side of the red cup spectrum. It's been on the news; it's gotten so out of hand that even Presidential candidates are weighing in on the matter (maybe it's just me, but I would much rather hear where candidates stand on important matters other than Christmas time coffee). Everyone has a stance.

OVER A CUP. Something that you pay $4 for. Paper filled with a cocktail of chemicals and caffeine, that once you're through with your java kick, you throw in a trash can and forget about until you repeat the process again tomorrow. Not something lasting. Not something that matters. Just a vehicle to get liquid energy into your system. Meanwhile, there are real problems in the world, real injustices going on, and people who are really suffering far more than anyone of us sipping out of a red cup.

Somehow we've let the media convince us that snowflakes missing from a cup means that we have to go to war. Christians, in particular, are supposedly the most offended. Angry videos preaching the evils of red cup establishment are claiming that Starbucks aims to take Christ out of your coffee and cancel Christmas based on what they put on their cups. However, was Jesus ever really a part their coffee- or any coffee- anyway? No. Starbucks is a business and their goal is to make money, plain and simple  (I lived in Washington. I drove by the Seattle hub frequently. I can assure you, HQ was a business, not a church). Never in their mission statement did they claim to be furthering the gospel. So nothing really changed there. Also, yes maybe they took Christmas trees of their cups (more than likely as a financial strategy than a religious statement), but they still play Christmas music, make Christmas blend, and sell items/gift cards clearly reading "Merry Christmas." So there goes that theory, Angry Youtube "Christian" Activists.

my snark husband's solution to the controversy
Fact is, there is no "War on Christmas" coming down from Starbucks HQ aiming to destroy all that Christmas stands for, one red cup at a time. Just a cup, with no inherent beliefs or disbeliefs, no amount of political correctness or incorrectness, no measure of good or evil. Just paper cups. The Red Cup Controversy is just another means of distracting us from that which really does matter; countless daily injustices and problems around the world are going unnoticed because we are all fighting over a cup design.

And Christians, let me challenge you with this: if Christmas is about peace on earth, good news to all people, and the radically world-changing love of God come to earth (which I believe it is), then how is making virtual picket signs by way of catchy hashtags helping spread that message? Or how is buying a t-shirt that says Keep Christ in Christmas and going into all your local Starbucks and raving like a lunatic, behaving like a jerk, preaching Christmas at all? Does a tree on your disposable cup really speak more powerfully about Christmas than your own behavior could? Are your beliefs so weak that you need a festive coffee in your cold hand to show the world you believe in Christmas as what the name implies- the festival of Christ? If they put the reindeer back on their cups tomorrow would that good news in anyway actually further the Good News? As this brilliant article puts it, Jesus probably doesn't so much care if we, or our cups, say "Merry Christmas." I'm pretty sure He is more concerned that as Christians- "Christ followers"- we behave like Him. And I'm no theologian but I don't remember Jesus saying "They will know you are Christians by your coffee cups..."- pretty sure He did mention something about LOVE, though...

 However, if you are really all that worried about the cups and their general lack of Christmasyness, then I have a problem-solving, situation-redeeming, Kingdom-furthering solution for you.

Just stop buying the coffee. Just stop paying for those little red cups.

Wait woooaah. Give up my 'Bucks? But what about my white peppermint mocha? My eggnog latte? My salted carmel hot chocolate?  

If you are truly that upset about lack of representation of Christmas on your cup, then stop buying that cup. Because actions speak louder than hashtags (feel free to quote me on that: #actionsspeaklouderthanhashtags...). Maybe go buy yourself a nice mug with a nativity scene on it, get yourself some fair trade coffee, and make yourself a nice Christmas brew in the comfort of your own home, if that makes you feel better. It's environmentally friendly, coffee farmers will get fair pay, and you will save some bucks by skipping your daily $5 'Bucks.

Or, better yet, take it a step further. Let your life speak louder than a message on a cup. Shut up and put your money where your mouth is, if you will. Take whatever money you would normally spend on mochas and lattes and put it towards something that matters. A few suggestions for you:
  • Give something, be it food, warm clothing, toys or just your time, to a local shelter. No matter how much you have or don't have, plenty of people have less than you. 

  • Sponsor a child. Change a life. Impact the world one kid at a time.

  • Purchase something that could feed a family- like a goat or heifer, or provide an income - like a sewing machine- for those who need it. (This year I would like my family to do this for me, rather than buying me presents)

  • Sponsor a family in need in your community. Or just be nice. Bring that new mom a casserole. Shovel your elderly neighbor's driveway. Invite the new family in town to your holiday festivities. Buy some gifts for the kids of the single mom next store.

  • Maybe you don't feel led to adopted or foster a child (that's another rant), but perhaps donate to a foster family or family trying to adopt in your community.

  • Animal lover? Call a shelter and see what they need for donations! Buy some kitty food, dog toys, or maybe volunteer to snuggle lonely critters.

  • Send a care package to a military service member who is, for your benefit, spending Christmas away from their loved ones. Show some gratitude for the sacrifices they are making for your freedom buy sending some Christmas cards

  • Volunteer at elderly housing facilities in your area; do crafts, bake, sing carols, play games. Make those precious people feel valued, loved and remembered this season.

  • Bake cookies. This is a really simple and practical thing I personally did last year. Every week from Thanksgiving up through New Years I made a few batches of cookies, bagged them up in cute packaging, attached an encouraging card, and handed them out to people. I left cookies in our mailbox for the mail carrier. I brought cookies to my gym. I sent cookies to people who had family in the hospital over the holiday. I brought cookies to work. I left cookies for our new neighbor. By January 1st I had given out nearly 300 Christmas cookies. Simple and delicious love.

Instead of protesting, ranting, making fools of ourselves and shaming Christ this Christmas, let's do stuff that matters. Let's stop letting the media distract us from the Truth with trivial nonsense, and let's take action on real problems, real pains and real injustices. Let's love big and spread peace on earth by showing goodwill to all men. Let's not just say "Christmas" but live it- in December and year round.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 13, 2015 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

4 Responses to “Christmas "Brew"haha: The Red Cup Controversy”

  1. "I can assure you, HQ was a business, not a church." Pretty much! Thanks for doing the impossible, Bella: commenting on this red cup situation in a way that made me want to read more. Love the redemptive tone and creative ideas expressed in your unique voice. Keep it up!

  2. Finally! Someone who has left the building, breathed the fresh air, and realized our Christ-ness wasn't really evident in how brothers and sisters have handled this! Your post is brilliant Bella!