I swore I wouldn’t do it.
I’ve never wanted to be a social commentator. Societies woes and worries come and go so fast that writing about them is like observing a kid sitting at a table with a piece of candy on it. Before you know it, the candies gone and the kid is left searching for something else.
But, I’m doing it.
I’m gonna eat that candy.
Red cups. People haven’t cared this much about those two words having association with each other since their college beer pong years. But, alas, this is what America’s societal agenda has chosen to focus on.
In case you’ve been sleeping for the last week, are just tumbling back out of a wardrobe, or don’t know what social media is, I’ll fill you in on “America’s pressing issue.”
Starbucks, our dominant source of caffeine and hip inspiration, has gone away from their traditional route of having Christmas-y decorations on their cups to now having a plain red cup with their green logo. For some, this move was seen as “an attack on Christmas” or “Starbucks undermining our Christian holiday.” Which seems perfectly logical, because, after all, there is no better resemblance of a little baby Jesus than that of a snowman and his skin particles, snowflakes.
The real tragedy of this situation, however, is obviously not the cups, but what an outcry about cups represents.
Americans, at least some, don’t like blank canvases because they are incapable of creating their own stories without the help of preconceived notions.
We want familiarity. We want those associations with holidays. We want the predictable answer.
A blank cup is a symbol, at least in a sense, of the ambiguity that is inherently tied to this holiday season. Colors, like red and green, mean all sorts of things to people.
Starbucks, even if unintentionally, has done something beautiful with their design. They have given an image to a holiday season that is never black and white through making their cups a very straightforward red and green.
Each hand that holds one of these cups is attached to a story. It is not the image on a cup that gives us insight as to what that story is, it’s the one drinking out of the cup that holds the insight to the story.
We are all united by the color. But the story, the associations we have with the colors and this season, is radically different depending on the person.
Red and green in December means a lot of things. For certain people it means Christmas in terms of presents.
To some it means Christmas in terms of the birth of God.
To others it simply means snowflakes.
To a different group, it means Hanukah.
Then theres the group that associates these colors with Kawanza
A fair share attach them to beautiful memories of their families growing up.
For others they represent painful images of a dysfunctional family.
Some see Red Ryder bee-bee guns, some hear silver bells.
December is not black and white.
December is green and red.
It’s a time where we have our own independent associations with things. Not a time where there are clear cut definitions.
It’s a time that could mean snowflakes, happiness, and presents.
Or it’s a time that could be painful and bitter.
When we let a cup not speak some clear cut definition but instead be ambiguous, we recognize that although we are united by the color, we are not necessarily tied together by the images.
We begin to recognize the beautiful, amazing, inspiring reality that every unique hand that holds one of those cups, has an equally unique story attached to the colors on the cup itself.
A color is vague.
An image is objective.
And a time so full with differing meaning, as December is, seems to align itself much more with the vague than the objective.
And as human beings surrounded by a beautifully unique and diverse world, we should embrace that.