Like many other people in the country — so many that there is a trending Twitter hashtag (#starbuckschristmas) devoted to this extremely important issue — I feel the need to weigh in on the whole “Starbuck’s changed its Christmas cup to appeal to the complainers in the world who want to take Christ out of Christmas!” brouhaha. Like many other people in the country, I honestly cannot remember what the old Christmas cup looked like, but not knowing about a thing ever stopped me from expressing my opinion about it before. Unlike the folks up at Starbuck’s, I will just go ahead and stick with tradition, dammit!

I am assuming that there was some nod to Christmas on the Starbuck’s holiday cup. I seriously doubt that there was a nativity scene emblazoned on the old cups. But, what do I know? Maybe there was. I never noticed.

Frankly, I don’t notice much when I am in Starbuck’s. Except maybe how many people are standing between me and my ability to get my French vanilla latte, made breve, with an extra shot of espresso. Depending on the season, I may replace French vanilla with Pumpkin Spice or Crème Brulee. Yeah. I’m flexible like that.

I am also flexible about a company changing the design of its cup. Actually, I don’t really care about the design of the cup, so long as they don’t screw with what they put inside of it. I love Starbuck’s coffee. I am not ashamed to admit it. Some people have gone so far as to suggest that I may need a 12-step meeting to deal with my addiction. To this I say, mainly to my husband and daughter, “Stop talking to me. I am trying to decide between the French vanilla and the Pumpkin spice.” , as I wonder if there is a 12-step program for nagging that I could direct them towards.

To the people complaining about the cup design I say, “Be grateful you have a cup to put your $6 coffee into; be grateful you have the six bucks for the coffee at all.” I have a suggestion for them, those who are so offended by the audacity of a corporation to change the design on their cups: stop drinking it.

They won’t though. They won’t suddenly become Dunkin’ Donuts customers. Would you like to know why? Because, if they did, then they would have to drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. No Starbuck’s coffee drinker in their right mind is going to voluntarily switch to DD. No way. No how.

In a world where there is much to be grateful for (truly, there is), the existence of Dunkin’ Donuts is not something a Starbuck’s coffee drinker could ever be grateful for. It will serve in a pinch, but as an every day substitute? No way. No how.

This idea of what we should be grateful for reminded me of many scenes from my childhood, most of them involving my father. My father began a lot of sentences (from the front porch, with coffee cup in hand) with  “You’re lucky….” . And, we were.

We were “lucky”, to his way of thinking, to have arms with which to rake leaves for hours, fingers with which to pull weeds from between the sidewalk cracks all day (likely a punishment for saying we were “bored”!), and legs with which to get our asses to the store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. Before you get the idea that my father was the 1970s version of Simon Legre, let me just paint a picture for you.

In that picture you will see a man that worked all night and stayed up with us during the day. (Hence the porch sitting and the coffee drinking.) You will see a man that often helped us with the leaf raking (he wasn’t a big fan of the weed pulling) and always (and I mean “always”, as in every single time) joined us as we jumped (or, very often were thrown — by him) into the giant piles of leaves that wound up in the cement pond that had long ago ceased to contain fish or frogs, but made an excellent place for growing mint in the summertime and for depositing leaves in the Fall. He didn’t really work us, no matter what we told our mother, all that hard.

Depending on the season, there was always cocoa or lemonade at the end of whichever mindless task we had been assigned. If we had to run down to the store to fetch milk or bread, the change was always ours to spend — on whatever struck our fancy. I, usually, spent mine on magazines or comic books, my sister spent hers on snacks. Unless it was Summer; it was nearly impossible to resist the lure of the “bomb pop” on a hot day — even if Donny Osmond or David Cassidy were gracing the cover of the latest “Tiger Beat”.

I can remember walking home covered in “bomb pop” remnants. The stickiness of the red and blue dye that were the hallmarks of having eaten a bomb pop made me, I am sure, look like an urchin. Still, I was a happy urchin. On a sugar high. Now, I am a happy adult. On a caffeine high. Thank you, Starbuck’s. Thank you, Dad.

I was lucky. I know that now. I knew it then, too. I think it is high time that other people recognize how lucky they are. And, they are very lucky indeed, lucky enough to have the time to fret over coffee cup designs. To that end, I would like to suggest a new Twitter hashtag, #shutupaboutthecupsalreadyandbegrateful.


NABLOPOMO13DAYTWENTYEIGHTEvery Thanksgiving, like many families, we say grace and then take turns giving voice to those things for which we are grateful.

My response is as honest as it is simple — and it’s always the same — I am grateful because I have enough.

It’s not fancy, but it’s the truth. There have been times when I didn’t have enough of those things that people can see — like money or other resources. And I’m grateful that I seem, these days, to have more of those things than I had in the past, but what I’m most thankful for is that I recognized that what was sorely lacking in my life was not anything that anyone else could see, nothing that could be bought. What I was sorely lacking was faith. Not religious faith, but faith in myself.

Some people might look at my life now and think that I’m kidding myself. They might think that I still don’t have enough of the creature comforts, that in resolving to be happy with what I have I’ve lowered my expectations. The nicest thing about discovering the faith that I have in myself is that I no longer pay heed or give credence to what others may think.

For those who say I’m kidding myself, that I have lowered my standards, I would argue that I’m not, that I haven’t. Indeed, I would argue that I’ve raised them.

I may not have some of the trappings of success that others do, but I don’t value them, either. My husband probably wishes that I did. Then, maybe we’d have our own house or go on exotic vacations. But, I don’t.

There are some areas of my life that might benefit from a change. Consideration as to whether these changes will make for a better life or just a different life must be taken into account and weighed carefully before changes are made.

I’m thankful that I know that trading in my server apron for a corporate I.D. card won’t necessarily make me happier. It may make other people happier, but that’s not any reason to do it. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of knowledge.

I know that I don’t want to measure my self-worth in “stuff”. There are other ways to measure success. I think I’ve done pretty well in the areas that truly matter.

What I’ve discovered is that I’ve made some fruitful investments and that they have names and faces — my husband, my daughter, my family, my friends, and my co-workers. Less tangible and not as easy to assess as economic success perhaps, but the pleasure I take from these relationships is far more satisfying than owning a dishwasher could ever be.

Truthfully, I have far more than I need — possibly far more than I deserve. I have enough faith in myself to know this and that satisfies me greatly. That, my friends, is something to be grateful for.