Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Very Starbucks Christmas

Last night, as I chugged a thousand words closer to the manuscript I'm currently working on, I did so whilst ensconced in one of the thirty-seven Starbucks within a five mile radius of my home.  I'm there regularly for a few hours on Tuesdays, while my little guy rocks out at the School of Rock for a three hour band practice.

This last week, it being a whole week before Thanksgiving, Starbucks did its Christmas morph, going from being pumpkin-orange and Fallish to being full-throttle red and white Lil' Baby Jesus cheer. Yeah, it's not Thanksgiving yet, but given the failure of the Salted Mocha Caramel Turkeychino last year, I guess the guys at corporate just assume that they may as well go with Christmas.

Take note, O ye who fret about the War on Christmas: there was plenty of Christmas on display at Starbucks.  It's the Christmas Blend, not the Holiday Blend, so our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be honored by the "signature blend of aged Sumatran coffee and other Asia/Pacific and Latin American beans" that most fully gives Him the Glory.

The background music piped in wasn't just Jingle Bells and other unacceptably pagan accretions.  It included indy-lite palatable versions of the Little Drummer Boy, and then a full on version of Silent Night.  As the sound system cooed about the Holy Infant So Tender and Mild, I found myself wondering why it was bugging me so.

The rendition wasn't a bad one, but Silent Night is a sacred song, one that evokes candlelight and gentle reverence.  As marketplace muzak, it felt misused.  Desacralized.

The three twenty-something baristas working there seemed to be struggling a bit with the music, too, although for a totally different reason.  One commented to another that he wasn't sure he could live with hearing this music, over and over again, for the next two months.

I chimed in, asking how long they'd been playing it, and asking if they could survive another month of it.  Another barista responded that it was going to go longer, out 'till mid-January, to squeeze every last drop of Christmas out of the season.  He groaned.  It was clear that they'd be totally sick of all of these songs by the time they were finally given permission not to play them any more.

Twenty minutes later, as I was the only patron in the store, the assistant manager asked me if I'd mind if they changed it over to blues for a bit.

Whatever's going to keep you sane, I replied.

So blues it was.

I don't think Jesus minded the switch.