Good morning from Chicago! I am sitting in my sun room, which is not particularly sunny during autumn and winter, and I had a dream last night that someone tried to hit me with their car while I was swimming (because that is how my brain works).
Also, I touch upon swatching about once a year in either my column or the blog, because yes, it is that important. Here are my top eight reasons I think you should swatch:
Many of you know that I work for Starbucks now. After Cascade, I wanted a sort of breather. I have worked for Walmart, Gap, Inc., and Nordstrom as well, because working for large, established companies means that if you ever need or choose to go back to them for employment, you can do it in almost any city where you land. This time around, it was Starbucks.
And I have yet to encounter a customer who cares that our holiday cups are red, or that they do not say "Merry Christmas!" on them, with a bunch of snowflakes.
While I am not a representative of the company in the sense that I have authority to speak on their behalf, I do have opinions about this as an old-fashioned human being that I feel may benefit others in their quest to get large companies heard, due to my employment history. I got into a rather colorful discussion about this on facebook, and I have come to a few conclusions that I thought I would share:
1. Telling the barista that your name is Merry Christmas is all sorts of dumb. If you are protesting in outrage, then please explain to me why you are continuing to give the company money every day. Also, the barista will write almost anything you like on your cup, because if it is rush hour and your drink is being plopped onto a counter with six other drinks within mere seconds of each other, then we want to make sure your own drink is the one that heads to the train station with you.
2. Continuing to talk about it on social media is all sorts of dumb. Many of your social media friends, believe it or not, are not Starbucks regulars. But suddenly, all of these people who never walked into a Starbucks, but most likely pass one every day if they live in a community of more than about 12,000 people, feel compelled to walk in and look at these red cups, live and in the flesh. Then, I know what happens becuase I am also a customer of Starbucks: "Ooh! Chocolate croissant!"
3. Worrying about it in the first place is all sorts of dumb. Do you have little kids? Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Do you need a new roof? Is your next-door neighbor worried that her kids do not have the proper winter gear for the upcoming weather? Did you hear about the gunshots in the Gresham neighborhood? From where I am sitting, all of these topics are more important than red cups at Starbucks, and yet they are not anywhere more forward than your cerebral cortex. Ask yourself why.
4. The media reporting on it in the first place is all sorts of dumb. Speaking of gunshots, a nine-year-old boy was gunned down in a targeted gang shooting this weekend. How about we stop the stupid red-cup conversation and talk about where his parents were, the fact that the educational system let us down, how it may be horrible that it was gang-related but that little boy was still someone's child and family member, or even how we can use money we spend at Starbucks to help curb gang violence in our communitites, if you are still interested in "protesting?" And yes, here I am talking about it in the so-called media, but I am trying to nip it in the bud with this post.
5. Hypocrisy regarding this topic is all sorts of dumb. Part of the facebook discussion (my facebook page is public, by the way, so feel free to read it) revolved around Christians saying, "Why me?" as a majority religious voice. Well, call me crazy, but victimhood is not exactly a fundamental Christian value. Why you? I, as a Catholic, can answer that question with everything from, "Why anybody?" to "What makes you think this is aimed at any one particular religious group in the first place?" If your brand of Christianity teaches entitlement, publicly-traded corporations using their reach as a platform for your agenda, or God taking care of you in the way YOU see fit instead of how HE sees fit, then you need to re-evaluate how you identify as a Christian. Just like you cannot shout "Less government!" while simultaneously complaining that the government needs more regulation on a certain issue, having it both ways just is not possible.
If you actually, truly are offended by Starbucks and their festive cups, here is my advice to you: stop drinking their coffee, write a letter to CEO Howard Schultz, and send it to the corporate office. Or go to the website and offer your feedback. And the next time all six of you are "outraged" over desensitizing Christmas (my fancy algorithm in my head literally suggests the number of outraged people is less than ten), wear a string on your finger to remind you of that as you are standing in line for a television at 50% off on Thanksgiving night.
Also, if everybody lives like a true Christian (I mean values-wise, not converting anyone and everyone to Chritianity), then nobody will give a crap what Starbucks does on their cups. I only know my own personal relationship with God, but I have never been given any indication that He asked a Board of Directors at Starbucks to take "Merry Christmas!" off of their cups. But I am guessing that if any messages were received, it was more of a "giving" message than a "taking" one, as illustrated by the fact that veterans can get a free tall coffee tomorrow, on Veterans Day, as a thank-you for their service.
A Catholic nun from Chicago just won "Chopped," and she plans on using her $10,000 to help feed the homeless and underprivileged. That, my friends, is Christmas. Knitting mittens and hats for school-aged children in Nekoosa, Wisconsin so that parents do not have to skip a meal to afford winter clothes? That is Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus by attending church, donating money and time to causes for people less fortunate, and re-telling His story regarding teachings of tolerance, acceptance, and unconditional love? That, from what I have learned, is Christmas. And I have worked a Black Friday for Walmart, so I have seen people drop their morals and values for material possessions literally in an instant.
Starbucks? Starbucks is coffee. And it is damn yummy coffee. Words on a coffee cup? Put it to bed.