Who knew that cups were such a controversial topic? Only last week I wrote about some folks who wanted to boycott In and Out Burger over the revelation of a phrase on the bottom of one of their cups that appeared to indicate devil worship. Problem was that the image was a cleverly photoshopped hoax that has been circulating in social media for at least five years. Less than a week later the world is all abuzz over this holiday season’s Starbuck’s cup. It seems that the Seattle based company decided to ditch their usual tacky Christmas cup festooned with ornaments and such in favor of a sleek and simple red one. Some goober claiming to be a preacher went off on Starbuck’s demanding that all of us of the Christian persuasion boycott the coffee houses because they have evidently taken Christ out of Christmas by introducing the plain and simple paper container.
Now I don’t believe in making fun of people’s religious beliefs. In fact, I go out of my way to defend everyone’s right to be as strange as they choose to be, even when I’m fairly certain that their thinking doesn’t seem to be part of the same Bible that I have read. Still, I often find myself of late wondering why so many people get so angry over what appear to me to be quite trivial situations. I mean, really, what is so darned important about a paper cup that we will use for a brief amount of time and then toss into the refuse bin? When I consider what Jesus would do if He were still around, the only conclusion that comes to mind is that He might roll His eyes and move on to something that is actually important. After all, this was the same person who had the temerity to perform miracles on the Sabbath and drive the Pharisees insane. He wasn’t exactly a stickler for convention.
My mother-in-law always invited her favorite priest to Christmas dinner each year and we often had some really good conversations with him. He used to imagine God the Father looking down on us humans and then turning to Jesus and asking, “What in the world are they doing? Didn’t they understand what you were trying to tell them?”
Jesus would then smile patiently and assure His Father, “ They are still trying to figure it out. They tend to be somewhat slow learners but they are trying.”
God would then shake His head as if to show His frustration and sigh, “Well let them carry on then!”
I know at this point in my musings I have no doubt enraged any number of religious and non-religious folks and that, as I see it, is the heart of the problem that we all face today. There are just too many among us who are have no sense of humor and even less willingness to allow each to be his/her own. I can’t even keep up with all of the places that I should boycott if I am to be in solidarity with the multitude of the causes swirling around us. Sometimes it feel as though I should simply become the quiet and unobtrusive little mouse that I once was when I was young. Staying under the radar seems to be the wisest conviction of choice.
Speaking of choices it is probably best not to even make them anymore because it is fairly certain that whatever we decide to do will cause someone or some group to be angry with us. We have to walk around these days as though we are being followed by the Gestapo. Saying the wrong words, wearing the wrong color, laughing at the wrong joke, or frequenting the wrong shops can bring an indictment even when the intent is innocent. It’s enough to make one weary. It’s far easier to become a recluse and not run the risk of accidentally offending someone.
I’ve gone through my stash of leftover paper cups and found myself wondering if I should dare to bring any of them out for the various celebrations that I usually have at this time of year. If I use those pink ones will I be secretly hinting that I am stereotyping women? Are the lime green ones the wrong shade for respectful Christmas parties? If I opt for the red ones do I appear to be siding with Starbuck’s and showing an anti-religious side? Does plain white whisper that I am not all inclusive? Perhaps the clear ones are the best. They seem to be the most neutral and far be from me to show favoritism or even reveal my personal philosophies.
It’s not any easier to decide which commercial outlets to frequent. I sometimes feel as though I have to sneak into some places lest people that I love might think ill of me for being a traitor. I actually like Walmart. I suppose that my mother ruined me in that regard because it was one of her very favorite stores. I learned to love the place but worry that my more progressive friends will view me as a low life for spending my money there. I look over my shoulder when I go to Chick-fil-a. I can’t quite recall why I should not go there but I know that there once seemed to be a fairly decent reason. It’s just all so confusing. Someone needs to make a boycott ap that we can all use to determine whether or not we should make purchases at particular businesses or try certain products. While our inventors are at it, an ap that helps us to remember prohibitive words and phrases might be of great use as well, although it would have to be continuously updated.
I suppose that I am showing my age when I say that I am very confused. I studied Ms. Manner’s etiquette book when I was younger and I have always worked very hard to be polite to everyone that I encounter. Sadly it appears that the old rules are grossly inadequate for successful navigation in today’s emotionally charged atmosphere. I find myself wondering just how many people I offend from day to day just by expressing myself. Trust me. It didn’t used to be so difficult. Everyone used to know how to laugh. People were not so literal. I could use sarcasm and get understanding nods of approval. Now even my jokes may be suspect and subject to criticism.
I have to confess that I am a very happy person with a wicked sense of humor. I suppose that the fact that I don’t get upset by much is a clear indicator to some that I don’t care enough about the problems that people endure. I am a bit simple minded I suppose. To me a cup is a cup is a cup. I rarely notice such containers unless they have sprung a leak. They pass quickly through my hands and wind up in the trash bin which probably worries me more that how they appear. I mean, think of all of the refuse that is filling our dumps. Now that is a bonafide problem!
I guess in the end I’ll just bring out all of my cups this year and let each person decide which one he/she likes the best. Heck, I may even set out some pens and encourage those who want symbols of Christmas on their drink containers to just create away. Better yet, if you come to my house for the holidays you may want to bring your own cup. That way you are bound to be happy. In the meantime maybe someone will really create one of those aps to help us all to be our very best. Mostly though I intend to just keep on laughing. Humor has taken me this far. I don’t think that it will let me down now.
Have a Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Whatever during this coming season. Perhaps instead of worrying about cups we all just need to sit back and count our blessings and enjoy one another’s company. Better yet, buy a red cup filled with Starbuck’s delights for someone who doesn’t usually have the expendable income for that sort of thing. My guess is that he/she won’t really notice what the container looks like. The recipient will only feel the love.