Maybe you have heard of “Cupgate 2015”? Or maybe you have been lucky enough to avoid the social media frenzy? At any rate, it seems consumers are up in arms over Starbucks purportedly trying to “take Christ out of Christmas” by not having festive enough cups this holiday season. All evidence of the WAR ON CHRISTMAS, as many are quick to proclaim.
My first thought: Is it really the “Holiday Season” already? I have hardly taken down my Halloween décor (OK- let’s be real. Mama is in survival-mode with 9 month old twins, a 6 year old, and a full-time job. There was no Halloween décor. That is not the point). The Christmas creep, and the “War on Christmas Creep” as it were, continues to come earlier and earlier. Just ask Slate.
If you had asked me 4 years ago if I thought there was such a thing as a War on Christmas my agnostic, cynical self would have scoffed at your ridiculous question. Of course there is no War on Christmas. Christians are in the majority in this country and Christian holidays are the norm. I am convinced now that is not the case. There is a War on Christmas. But, it is not what you think it is. It is not in Starbuck’s red cups. It is not in people offering you a “Happy Holidays” greeting instead of a “Merry Christmas” greeting. Oh no.
The real “War on Christmas” is much sneakier than that. However, those things are casualties of the war in some ways, and Screwtape would be pleased.
Just this morning, as I sipped my (home brewed) coffee and plotted out my day off in which I must do-all-the-things, I caught a bit on the news about tricks for scoring the best deals on the hottest stuff. The host was presenting the information to “smart, savvy, shoppers” and the presenter was being lauded for her insider tips. Mere minutes later I caught a blurb about how some percentage of parents admitted they would behave unethically to get the last hot item on the shelf. Maybe that makes you laugh, or shake your head in disbelief. Or maybe you are not surprised in the slightest. Because, that is what Christmas is about. Christmas is about getting stuff. Christmas is about consumerism and materialism and keeping up with the Joneses. I mean, look at how bent out of shape people are over the decorations on their $5 cup of coffee.
How misplaced is our distain? As Christians, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior. The miracle of the Incarnation, of God becoming Man. Or, as written so beautifully in this article from Catholic Courier:
…our loving God gave us the greatest gift possible: his own Son. God gave us a savior, the Prince of Peace, the promise of eternal life — and all the wisdom, peace and comfort the little child Jesus would grow to give us as a very way of life and a pathway to God.
The real war on Christmas is ever permeating consumerism that drives our “throw-away culture”, as Pope Francis often laments. And, the saddest irony is in all the self-identifying Christians who will spend these next few weeks participating in this quest for stuff in the name of “Holiday Cheer”; or, the desire to give their children the “Perfect Christmas” that is defined only in things.
Friends, our lives revolve around stuff. Our houses, our lives, our minds, are cluttered with it. Our personal finances are in dire straits in the pursuit of more of it, in many cases. And for what? Can stuff make us happy?
The real war on Christmas is that people are using so much energy being outraged over a red cup, in the assertion that Christ would somehow be represented more appropriately by the cups being adorned with snowflakes, or Christmas Trees. Shouldn’t we instead focus our energy on being examples of Christ? On feeding the hungry. On clothing the naked. On being a force of love. Or in the very least spending our Christmas season (which hasn’t liturgically started yet!) contemplating the Real Gift, that is that God became Man and dwelt among us (John 1:14), that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). And, in becoming Man, “Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:8-9).
If you think about Christ’s birth in the wholeness of Salvation History, in that Christ was born only to die, to shed His Blood for us, red is actually a fitting color for a Christmas cup.