This may sound strange coming from a Rabbi, but I will be the first to admit that I love Christmas and the entire Christmas season. What’s not to like! I love driving through various neighborhoods to see the lights; I love all the hoopla and the hype; I even enjoy the elevator music which chimes Christmas cheer 24/7.
Much to the chagrin of those who fully embrace the spiritual, Christ-centered purpose of the holiday, significant aspects of Christmas have evolved into a commercialized, secular national observance. We all enjoy the day off work; we all enjoy time with our families; and we all enjoy the sales which take place on December 26. In short, whether or not we celebrate Christmas as part of our faith, we are all afforded sacred time to be with loved ones and reflect on the values of giving and caring.
Indeed, the “spirit of giving” associated with the Christmas season has become as American as the “spirit of thanks” which we honor each November on Thanksgiving. It is, therefore, very important to recognize that while universal spiritual values can be celebrated by all, not everyone celebrates those values in the same way.
This was the beautiful idea behind a “holiday coffee cup” introduced by Starbucks in October. According to an article by CNN Money, which went viral on Facebook last month, this simple “red cup” became the harbinger of a “War being waged against Christmas.” Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth.
“Humbug,” I say! Removing symbols traditionally associated with the Christmas season from a coffee cup does not in any way reflect negative feelings against Christmas. On the contrary, such actions reflect a desire to broaden the joy and spirit of this season. As a society we should applaud the creative way that Starbucks sought to invite people to create their own associations with this season (beyond snowflakes, reindeer and ornaments) by introducing a simple, two-toned red cup – a cup which according to Starbucks vice president Jeffrey Fields, promotes the holidays with “a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
We all have our stories at this season. We all celebrate winter festivities in our own unique ways. At the same time, since we live in a country that has a population which is overwhelmingly Christian, we are afforded the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds. To this I say, “Merry Christmas.”