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More than decorated lattes

| Monday, December 7, 2015

Even though it’s only the start of December, the first “War on Christmas” controversy has already infected my Facebook page. This particular battle is over Starbucks’ decision to remove Christmas decorations from their red holiday cups. The gravity both sides of the argument are putting on this issue is pure insanity and the very definition of a first world problem. If your Christmas season is truly defined by whether or not some of your favorite companies include reindeer and Christmas trees on their products, you’ve clearly missed the point of Dr. Seuss’ children’s book, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

While this quote might arouse fond memories of from our childhood, Dr. Seuss’ 1957 words foreshadow a real problem that has exponentially increased over the past two decades. This problem is that the focus of the Christmas season has shifted from time spent with loved ones to who has the newest “floofloovers or whohoopers.” With the rise of Black Friday and numerous holiday commercials, the term “Christmas” is becoming synced with catchy icons such as Santa and Frosty the Snowman. Therefore, it is no surprise that many groups are taking offense to Starbucks’ removal of these designs. However, as the Grinch discovers, Christmas “means a little bit more” than just some childish icons.

The origin of Christmas is rooted in the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, a man who first and foremost preached a message of humility, social justice and love for the unlovable. It is also the celebration of the fearless woman, whom we now honor on top of our dome, for accepting her call to motherhood without regard for social stereotypes.

How can a story as powerful as this one possibly be affected by removing some holiday graphics from a Starbucks cup?

Instead of focusing on the “War on Christmas,” we should be actively seeking to bring joy to those around us. Instead of spending time and energy complaining when companies don’t write “Merry Christmas” on their products, go out as wish everyone you see a “Merry Christmas!” I guarantee these human-to-human interactions reveal the true meaning of the season more than any product label ever could.

So, please, resist the urge to jump on the bandwagon and repost or retweet angry videos or pictures regarding Starbucks’ new cups. Instead, use your “puzzler” and bring the true spirit of Christmas by tipping your overworked Starbucks barista or by covering the bill for the random person behind you in line. These small acts of kindness are what define our Christmas season, not some commercialized decorations on a disposable cup.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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