Ho Ho Huh?

IMG_8346So Starbucks has found itself in the middle of a brouhaha (more like a brew-ha-ha, amirite?) over its austere red ombre cups for the holidays. Internet outrage abounds. Not only are some people offended by the lack of vaguely Christmas-y doodles on the new cups, but other people are offended by the fact that people are offended.

And even though I think this news has run its course, Donald Trump — arbiter of all that is rational and compassionate – is weighing in, so I can’t let it go. Trump suggested boycotting Starbucks. Good luck with that. He also promised that if elected, everyone will be saying “Merry Christmas” again. Which begs the question that I shout at the TV to Trump and all other politicians again and again: how exactly are you going to do that?

Ok, here’s the thing. If today is one of the 364 days of the year that is not your birthday, I won’t walk up to you and say happy birthday. Similarly, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I won’t wish you a Merry Christmas. If I don’t know you well enough to have insight as to what you celebrate in December but want to wish you well nonetheless, I’m going with happy holidays. That just seems to make sense, right?

Starbucks chose a simple red cup to acknowledge the upcoming holidays. This should not impact anyone’s holidays. I think the bigger question needs to be why are corporations so deeply involved in our families’ celebrations in the first place?

Just as I don’t need a pumpkin spice latte to let me know it’s fall, I don’t need a decorated cup to let me know the holidays are coming. Nor do I need Lexus suggesting that a luxury sedan wrapped in a big red bow is a reasonable gift this time of year. Instead of worrying about whether or not companies use the word “Christmas,” why don’t we push back against their efforts to whip us all into a gift buying frenzy in the first place?

We consistently say the holidays aren’t about the gifts, they’re about people – family, friends and those in need. Therefore, the most important thing to be spending this season is time. Time with people we love. Time helping others. Time cultivating gratitude. This isn’t news. We all know this. I’ve even written about it before (although in a much more profane way) in this post.

But it takes blinders, earplugs and an iron will not to succumb to the message in the media. I’m glad Starbucks’ cupgate happened in early November so I have a head start in thinking about what’s truly important this season and how my family will celebrate. I simply want time with them. Maybe even at a Starbucks, sipping hot chocolate out of a plain red cup.

Happy holidays, may you spend wisely this year.

The Fine Art of Slothing

csc_0533After quickly Googling “are sloths nocturnal?” I’ve quasi-scientifically determined that we are indeed turning into a family of sloths.  Just like last Christmas vacation and the one before that.

I blame it on the fun new Wii games all four of us end up playing at night, nudging bedtimes later and later.  I blame it on the fact that we turn the heater off before we go to bed, making it frigid in the morning and pretty much impossible to get out from under our toasty covers – especially when we don’t have anything urgent waiting for us when we get up.

I adore the slow pace that follows the Christmas frenzy.  New toys keep everyone happily occupied while the fact that thank you notes must be written adds a modicum of structure and brainwork to the day.  All sports, dance and art classes are mercifully suspended, freeing up the last few days of vacation for a little unstructured meandering.  The neighborhood kids bounce from house to house while the adults stop by to happily help get rid of the random beer or odd bottle of champagne left lingering in the fridge and taking up space that really should be reserved for vegetables this time of year.

While I’m already starting to feel the pull of next week’s return to busy, I’m reminding myself to savor the camaraderie and calm of unscheduled family life – perhaps the best gift the holiday season can offer people and sloths alike.