Why Parents Shouldn’t Protest the Starbucks Red Cups

I work really hard to teach my 5-year-old not to sweat the small stuff: Getting upset because it’s raining while we’re walking to school isn’t worth it, I tell him. Feeling frustrated because the letter “s” is difficult to write is a waste of time, I insist. (His “s” isn’t perfect, but it’s absolutely fine.) Sulking because it’s Monday when you wish it were Saturday is pointless, I explain. I hope that he’s listening and that he’s learning a thing or two about not taking every little thing so seriously. I also teach him about as many different beliefs and perspectives as possible — which isn’t difficult since we live in New York City.

Because here’s how I see it: Putting things in perspective and embracing differences are invaluable life lessons that will always serve him well. 

So — and there’s no way to sugarcoat this — I’m baffled by the parents in my Facebook newsfeed who are protesting this year’s design of the traditional red coffee cups at Starbucks. At the heart of their angst: The cups aren’t Christmasy enough. What? People are getting worked up because their coffee cup is plain red instead of having a snowflake or a Christmas tree or a reindeer on it? Do they really have so much free time that THIS is what they’re worried about? (More proof that this issue is completely petty: Donald Trump, the King of Petty, is currently trending on social media for “suggesting” that we boycott Starbucks over the holiday cup design.) 

What bugs me even more is the example that these parents are setting for their children about getting worked up about nothing. (And yes, I care about that example because it’s entirely possible that the children of these parents will share their completely misguided ways with my kid at some point.) And those parents know as well as I do that it’s pretty much impossible to hide anything from children, so the children of The Cup Protesters absolutely know what’s up. They see their parents ranting about it to friends and/or on Facebook. They just do. Even if those parents think they’re hiding it or their kids aren’t paying attention, they’re not, and they are. 

Here’s something else: I don’t buy that Starbucks has anything against Christmas or Christianity by going with a different coffee cup design this year (the place sells a Christmas coffee blend and an Advent calendar). And yes, I celebrate Christmas and I believe in God, so I’m absolutely qualified to form that opinion. But beyond all that — and this may shock some people — I, like many others out there, don’t go to Starbucks because I care about their view of Christmas or any other religious holiday. I just like the occasional skim caramel macchiato.

Curious about how the new design originated, I did about five seconds of research and read on Forbes that Starbucks wants to “usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” according to a statement by the company’s  vice president of design and content. Promoting a message of acceptance and inclusiveness during the holidays? Seems pretty on point to me.


Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks