As the parent of a teen, I spend a lot of time trying to help my daughter look at the big picture. "Rather than focus on all you don't have, think about all that you do." It's not just a matter of adopting a "cup half-full" attitude. It's recognizing that as middle-class girls in the United States in 2015, my daughter and her peers have it pretty good.
When was the last time a bomb fell on our house? Or, she was forbidden to attend school because of her gender? When has she ever been hungry, truly hungry? (I'm not counting discretionary snacks and cravings ... "Mo-o-om, there's no cookie dough!") Her day-to-day concerns are most definitely "first-world problems."
Perspective. It's not an easy concept for the teen brain. (Or, let's face it, for the adult brain sometimes.) But, practicing perspective is important if you want to have a content, satisfied, happy life.
So, I think that one of my jobs is helping my daughter look beyond the latest designer boots, front-row concert tickets or text fights with friends. And, I try to set a good example in the way I spend my time, my money and — most important — my emotions. She knows what I care about (I'm from a theatrical family; heart is firmly planted on sleeve more often than not) and, consequently, she knows what I value.
Now the holidays are coming, and there are a lot of grownups setting a bad example.
Yesterday, as I was packing my daughter's lunchbox (Hmmm ... would she prefer Oreos or Chips Ahoy today? Like I said, "first world problems."), I heard a story on the news that made me shake my head in wonder. Apparently, Starbucks has unveiled its holiday cup and — gasp! — it's a plain red cup with a green logo.
The outrage was loud and immediate. "Where are the snowflakes?" "Where are the pine trees?" "Where are the ornaments?"
"Starbucks has declared war on Christmas!"
The last I checked, the colors red and green are visual shorthand for ... you guessed it ... Christmas. One look and we're opening our wallets and humming "Jingle Bells." In fact, running an ad agency, I have often had to advise clients not to use those two colors together unless they want to give their audience that warm holiday feeling.
And, with that in mind, it isn't as though Starbucks has decorated their cups with anything other than Christmas. I see no dreidel, no star of David, no Kwanzaa kinara, no symbols of Islam, Wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Force or even Hogwarts.
Plus, since when did Jesus, Mary or Joseph mention anything about coffee cups? It isn't as though some angel told the Magi to bring frankincense and myrrh and a venti decaf non-fat caramel macchiato to the manger. Sheesh!
Rather than be upset about the designer cup that your designer coffee is being poured into, maybe you should be grateful that you can afford a $5 cup of coffee. I repeat ... Sheesh!
So, as the holidays approach, let's think about what really matters. Would Jesus care if you drank your Pike's Place Roast out of a plain red cup? Would he care if you defected to Dunkin' Donuts? I doubt it. But, if you really want to celebrate his birth or his life, there are ways to do it. Give to the poor, help the hungry, warm the cold, comfort the bereft.
That $5 coffee could go a long way.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.