The early crispness of fall in Davis disappears in a flash, almost as if it were never here in the first place. We find ourselves free-falling in the midst of a holiday whirlwind; decorations, music, radio, television, and news articles.There’s no escaping the madness that the upcoming months bring, and no matter how hard we try there’s really no preparing for it, either. It’s incredibly chaotic and stressful, and by its end most of us cannot wait for the mundaneness of January to arrive. Yet it’s also a wonderful, joyous time of year that we may forget to appreciate as we’re drowning in gift wrapping paper, ribbons, and dare I say the dreaded “F word:” FINALS. This magic that I’m talking about, the magic that can take us away from our stresses (if only for a while) all begins in early November with one small sip from a red paper cup; The one and only — Starbucks red cup. The winter season is now in full swing.
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Throughout the year, other kinds of red cups are filled in college dorm rooms and football tailgating parties, but these holiday red cups in particular hold special meaning. They’re only here for a short time, and with them they bring along memories, traditions, sights, and sounds of the season. They remind us of a last-minute gift hunt, a cold night indoors by the fireplace, or a warm conversation with a good friend. They’ll be ordered across the nation this holiday season in sizes Tall, Grande, and Venti, with a name written on the side—the first stamp of wintertime. Sure, maybe the lines at the Silo are ridiculously long, but during this time of year, the wait seems a little more worth it.
If you think about it, Starbucks is a central place for many of the events and moments of our lives, whether they be important or more simple in nature. We’ll come to this familiar place for a first date at the F Street Starbucks and a stroll through downtown, a late cramming session before Bio exams, or simply for reading a favorite book. Caffeine may have health effects of its own, but I can’t help but wonder… what is the true value of a Caramel Macchiato in easing a heartbreak, when considering the possibilities of new love, or deciding to make a big life change? I don’t think it’s thought of in this way very often, but coffee has what I believe to be a healing power. It is a constant friend and confidant in my own life. Especially in the depths of winter, there’s nowhere I’d rather be but inside a cafe.
Over the next few months, we’ll return to this comforting setting, whether that be at the Silo, ARC, in the city of Davis, or elsewhere. We’ll return for more fond moments with friends, significant others, or even just by ourselves.
The next time you order a Chestnut Praline latte (my personal favorite), let that red cup remind you what really makes this time of year so special. As many of us are busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s so easy to lose sight of it. We are bombarded with advertisements about Black Friday and finding the “perfect gift”, but I know that’s not all this holiday is about. I’m reminded of one of my favorite holiday movies, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I have no doubt that if there was a local Starbucks across from his dark, mountainous cave, he would be forever changed the moment he takes a gulp of a Gingerbread latte and experiences the aroma, flavor, and joy of the season.
“What happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.”
Maybe it is just espresso, steamed milk, and flavored syrup. But I’d like to believe there’s a little bit of magic in that red cup, too.