Creating a 'holiday cup' instead of a 'Christmas cup' doesn't mean the cups are anti-Christmas - it means pro-inclusion

The holiday season is a time of togetherness, filled with family time, frosty afternoons and hot drinks. Alyson Johnston

These drinks in festive cups tend to divide people, though. Should the cup say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"? To me, the answer is simple. To the loud voices of people on social media, though, there's no right answer.

Two-word phrases divide people while the season is meant to bring people together. The irony is almost as strong as the coffee inside the cups.

Within the last handful of years, Starbucks' holiday cups gained the most attention they've had in decades. According to an article by Eater, the 2015 red cups stirred up the current controversy. Evangelist commentator Joshua Feuerstein said Starbucks was trying "to take Christ and Christmas off of their ... cups,"

The cups were simply red instead of white. While still festive, they broadened the reach of the cups to anyone who held one in their hand, regardless of what holiday they celebrated. Although some may feel that getting rid of religious affiliation on a coffee cup is taking away from their celebration of a holiday, it's really adding to the number of people who could be involved.

The design of something that will end up in the garbage in 20 minutes shouldn't make or break your holiday season. A Starbucks cup (a Starbucks cup!) doesn't deserve the power it seems to have over social media in December.

In both 2018 and 2019, the chain has made multiple designs of cups with varying colors and sayings. I haven't heard as much about the backlash against holiday cups as in previous years. That may be due to the multiple designs or to the time since the original controversy, but I'm not sure.

The one thing I do know is that creating a more inclusive cup shouldn't make people feel excluded. Creating a "holiday cup" instead of a "Christmas cup" doesn't mean the cups are anti-Christmas — it means pro-inclusion.

I celebrate Christmas, but that doesn't mean I think everyone should only celebrate the holiday I do. To me, including as many people as possible is one of the most important things we as a society should do.

Trying to create a perfectly inclusive design is impossible, as seen in the reactions from previous years. The effort is what's important though. I think if big powers in society and everyday people are working hard to create a more accepting society, that's all we can ask for.

A disclaimer, of course; as I mentioned before, I celebrate Christmas. That means I don't know how people who celebrate other holidays feel about this issue — this is only my opinion. I haven't felt marginalized or forgotten by holiday product designs, but I am trying to use this space to talk about an issue that affects more people than just me.

So this holiday season, take a good look at your festive coffee cup and remember that this time is for togetherness, not for diviseness.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Alyson Johnston is a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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