A War on Christmas

S Ralph

By Shannon Ralph

I love Christmas. It’s truly my favorite time of the year, and has been as long as I can remember. I love 24/7 Christmas carols. I love piles of snow and shimmering icicles. I love the smiles on the faces of total strangers. I love the wonder in the eyes of exhausted little children. I love the garish mall decorations. The long lines to see Santa. I love lights. And chintzy wreaths. And packages wrapped in flashy foils. I love the L.L.Bean winter catalog. I love finding the perfect gifts for the people I adore. I love Christmas candy. And Christmas cookies. I love ice skates. And sleds. And warm woolen mittens. Cozy hats. I even love the piles of snow boots that leave puddles of water on my living room floor.

And I love coffee. Not just at Christmas. I love coffee year round, but I must admit to looking forward to peppermint mochas in fun, festive cups every holiday season. Starbucks rarely disappoints me—with the coffee or the cup. This year has proven to be no exception. Rather than going the route of kitschy holiday decorations this year, Starbucks decided on a classier, minimalistic design. A simple red cup with an ombré design.

And in typical American style, people are PISSED.

Apparently, a red coffee cup is an affront to Christmas. By “refusing” to include the secular symbols of Christmas they have included in their holiday cup design in previous years—such as snowflakes and ice skates and sled dogs—Starbucks is perpetuating the “war on Christmas” that is painfully prevalent in our modern world.


You read that right. Christian groups are up in arms because a red coffee cup does not adequately celebrate Christmas in the way that a snowflake or a sled dog does. By offering “holiday” beverages in a red cup instead of “Christmas” beverages in a snowflake-emblazoned cup, Starbucks is guilty of spitting in the face of every Christian in America. Headlines such as “War on Christmas: Starbucks Red Cups are Emblematic of the Christian Culture Cleansing of the West” are popping up everywhere.

Let’s just address this right here and now. There is NO war on Christmas. There is NO “Christian Culture Cleansing.” One only needs to head to any mall in America to know that Christmas is alive and well. And we are still a predominantly Christian nation. No one has told a single Christian in this country that they have no right to practice their religious or to celebrate Christmas in any way at all they see fit. I still hear “Merry Christmas” more than I do “Happy Holidays” in December, but I happily accept both in the spirit they were given—a wish for well-being and joy.

A respect for Hanukkah and Kwanza and any other holiday celebrated this time of year does not diminish my Christmas. The acceptance and honoring of a minority is not a “war” on the majority. If people only understood this one crucial concept, we could live in peace with those who are different from us. My marriage does not endanger yours. Civil rights for people of color do not diminish my civil rights. My friend’s celebration of Hannukah does not endanger my Christmas. If we only embraced this ideal, we could be free of outrage and anger like that being directed at Starbucks. We could accept a “Happy Holidays” as it was given, with grace and gratitude in our hearts. Our peppermint mochas in red coffee cups would have no effect on the holiday joy we feel.

My question to Christians is this—Is your faith SO weak and SO fragile that a coffee cup has the power to ruin the spirit of Christmas for you? If the spirit of your Christmas is defined by a coffee cup, then you have NO IDEA what the season is about. Perhaps you should spend your abundant free time volunteering at a soup kitchen. Or buying gifts for children who will not be receive a visit from your precious Santa this year. Or donating your time caroling for those in nursing homes who will spend this Christmas alone. Or maybe you could send something festive to our soldiers serving far away from their loved ones this Christmas.

There are numerous ways—far more productive than boycotting a red cup—to show your “Christian” values this holiday season. If you try one or two, maybe…just possibly…you may find the real meaning of Christmas.

HINT: It has nothing to do with coffee.

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