Tag Archives: Christmas

What’s in your cup?

Image credit: MorgueFile free photo: http://mrg.bz/T62g00
Image credit: MorgueFile free photo: http://mrg.bz/T62g00

I first heard about the Starbucks scandal on Sunday. A friend had posted a link to the (now) viral video in which an evangelist calls out Starbucks for making a corporate decision of inclusion during the holiday season.  Likely, you have already heard of the company’s “offensive” move to remove the images of snowmen, ornaments, and snowflakes from its holiday cup, leaving only the corporate logo boldly displayed on its traditional red cup.  As though it was a crime against humanity, the evangelist waged war against Starbucks and their product packaging decision.  Apparently, a plain red cup is the latest weapon in the “war on Christmas”,  worthy of its own hashtag, extensive news coverage, and lots of social media chatter. Even Donald Trump has joined in the rally suggesting a boycott against Starbucks and promising a return to “Merry Christmas” if he becomes president.

Really? A cup is a Christmas symbol? I was raised Catholic and though I more often identify myself as spiritual, I do attend a (liberal) Christian church and mark “Christian” on the little box on hospital forms.  Growing up, Christmas was a big deal in our house–big, really BIG–and my parents (especially my mom) worked to create special memories every year. Despite the pile of gifts under the tree each year, most of the memories I carry are those created from our annual traditions; traditions that kept the focus on the “reason for the season.”

For example, there was our annual ornament shopping. Each year, dressed in our Sunday best, my parents  took all 9  children (spaced 11 years apart) out for a special lunch and to the pool/patio store that transformed its sales floor into a holiday wonderland. Filled with Christmas trees heavy with ornaments, Christmas villages, strands of lights, and other décor, my parents had the patience of Job as they waited for this child or that to make their selection. Each of us carefully examined  the roughly 30 trees, wanting to be certain we’d seen all the choices before selecting that year’s ornament. And, when we returned home, each child looked for their special place on the tree to display their new, best-ever, ornament. The oldest, with his love of birds, always found someplace toward the top so the long tail feathers would drape “the way they’re supposed to.” When I was little, I liked someplace in the bottom 1/3 of the tree where I could remove and handle my ornament without much notice. Ask any one of us children, and the ornament shopping was never about the holiday decoration; it was about patience and memories of togetherness created and treasured, and a tradition each of us now shares with our own children.

Then there was the basket filled with small pieces of yellow yarn that sat next to the round advent wreath on our large kitchen table. In the center of the wreath sat a small wooden crib. Our mission was to help build the bed for the coming baby Jesus. With each act of kindness (neither requested nor boasted about), we could lay a “piece of hay” in the crib to welcome and comfort the new-born King. Like any house filled with 9 children, we had our scuffles, but from Thanksgiving until Christmas, there was a softness in our words and our hearts. This tradition helped us keep our eyes on the message of Christ; be kind, be not boastful, do unto others.

Perhaps the tradition that gets some of the greatest giggles when being retold are the years my father directed us in the re-enactment of the story of Christmas. Each of us played a character in the night that Mary and Joseph traveled from inn to inn, searching for a place to rest for the night. The 5 bedrooms upstairs served as the stage and bed sheets were the only costuming.  Always sensitive to the age differences, my parents insisted the older children still participate long after they outgrew the tradition, so each of us had several years’ worth of memories playing out the Christmas story. Each year, my mother would giggle with us while prompting us to remember why we celebrate Christmas and of the struggle and discrimination a young couple faced. My father was the perfect stage director as we rotated through the story several times so that each pair of children had the chance to play the coveted roles of Mary and Joseph. And, each year, by the time all was said and done, we were again focused on togetherness and the real “reason for the season.”

Sure, there were other traditions–the wind up Santa with the bell, the 6 course prime rib dinner, and the taking of turns when opening gifts so that everyone shared in everyone else’s joy. (Yes, gift opening often took several hours in our house.) Each tradition kept our eyes focused on what mattered, why we even celebrated Christmas, and what Jesus taught us about living.

I wonder what Jesus would think if he was sitting in a Starbucks today. Would HE be offended by a cup intended to symbolize inclusiveness? Then I think about the re-enactment of the Christmas story we acted out as children, the messages of struggle and discrimination his parents faced before and after his birth. What would Mary or Joseph think about the #Starbucksredcup? I can only imagine, and I imagine they wouldn’t be thrilled having their message minimized by a red cup.

My mother used to say it doesn’t matter if you are acting like a “good Christian” if your heart is somewhere else. Have we strayed so far from the teachings of Christ  we forgot HIS message? The traditions I grew up with taught me that Jesus came to teach us to be more accepting  and to love each other; he taught about inclusion.  As Christians we are taught that we are the body of Christ, his hands and feet to spread his message. Jesus’s message isn’t found on a cup, it’s found inside the cup.

What’s in your cup?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

There are so many things that make this the most wonderful time of the year. Let me count the ways:

  • I love the lights. The lights that twinkle on the tree and the garland hung in the house. The lights that line the roof and illuminate walkways. The lights that brighten entire neighborhoods, decorate malls and make the city offices seem just a little friendlier to visit. I love the lights. But, I’ll also admit, I’m a traditionalist. No weird pink or blue lights for me, thank you.
  • I love the music. But, not until after Thanksgiving, thank you! When our local easy-rock radio station started the holiday music early this year, I sat in my car, fingers in my ears and shouted, “La, la, la, la, la! I’m not listening!” Mature, I know. I’ve been playing it since Santa safely arrived at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade and will turn it off again after January 1.
  •  I love the smell of a fresh tree. And, since I have a fake tree, I love that I can get that smell from a candle. Yes, I said it–a fake tree. The kind that I can put up the day after Thanksgiving and not worry the spontaneous combustion of dried brittle needles. So, every year I shop for the “perfectly scented” pine candle. Like a truffle-sniffing hog, I move from candle to candle. Some are too “perfumey” and some are just nasty. I am a bit particular about my candles. I found one last year, and realized yesterday it has been thoroughly burned.  Fingers crossed that my little hobby store is carrying the same candle this year. If so, I’ll buy 3.
  • I love the baking and candy making. I make candy and cookies and love the smells that fill my kitchen and waft through the house. I love the help of my “cookies tasters” and the memories of many years of shared baking. I love the taste of homemade fudge, warm Italian sesame cookies, and the sweet salty treat of honey’d almonds. And, I love that I have 11 other months of the year to un-do the damage of my overindulgence. 🙂
  • I love the joyful spirits that fill my day. It could be the person I met at the mall, or the post office, or in church. It could be the stranger on the street. There is a joyfulness that seems to permeate the air at this time of year. It matters not if someone celebrates the same I do, or not at all. The world just seems more joyful. Usually. Unless you got behind Scrooge on Black Friday, or any other shopping day. Which is why I love Amazon. I love the joyful, helpful spirits at Amazon. A lot.
  • I love the cards and letters. I love hearing from friends from far away and those close by but lost in the crazy busyness of the year. Most of them, anyway.

There are so many things I love about this time of year. But, aside from the extra time with my family, the thing I love the very most is…

  • I love getting my new day planner refill! And, the new family calendar that hangs on the fridge, but my new planner most of all! As I think I have mentioned before, I am faithful to the Franklin-Covey day planner system and have been since long before Stephen Covey joined the group. But, I’m thrilled for the “Seven Habits” principles he’s added to the planners. Franklin-Covey does offer time-management software, but I prefer the good old fashioned paper planner. The “compact” size is too small and “monarch” is too big. Like the baby bear’s bed, the “classic” size is just right. Just in case it wasn’t already glaringly obvious, my kids will tell you, (with fear in their eyes,) that I’m a bit obsessive about my planner.  I am particular about my binder (red leather, old, but I love it and it gets a good leather conditioning at the start of every year. See the picture above. I have the same style in black, as a back up.) I only use pencil–preferably a mechanical pencil–same rule for the family calendar. I hate confusing cross-outs on my calendars.  My family knows “the rules” very well, and the girls remind my husband if they see a pen in his hand near the calendar. I neatly store the past years in zip-lock bags for reference. It takes up less space than the storage binders Franklin-Covey sells and keeps them safe from potential animal “friends” and water damage in the garage. And, yes, I have actually referred back to them.  Clearly, I give a great deal of thought to my time-management system, and yesterday, I devoted a great deal of time to their website. Though I was pretty sure I would stick with the same refill, (7 Habits, since you asked,) I looked at all the new planner styles and their clearance section. Then, I perused the bags and household organization tools they offer. I even looked at their new binders. I know, crazy, right! After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year, made a little more wonderful by the crisp new planner refill that I will use to keep track of my days and to prioritize time with the ones I love most.

What do you love most about this “most wonderful time of the year”?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/TransitioningMom