The Starbucks at beautiful and historic Main Street, Unionville was busy as usual when I hurried in during the hectic morning hours, happy to take a momentary shelter from the bone-chilling temperatures outside. The weather was as brutal as I could remember for the longest time at this time of the year. It was a long line-up. The customers were getting restless as the minutes ticked away and the time available for reporting to work got shorter. The attendant at the counter was working away methodically. While still friendly, her eyes were showing stress as she glanced nervously at the line that seemed to get only longer. Finally it was my turn.
"Tall blonde please," I gave her my order hastily and handed her my Starbucks gold card. For some reason unknown to me, her tired eyes suddenly lighted up and her face broke into a broad and hearty smile. "I like that!" she said staring at my chest. "I should get one of those!" she continued, letting down the guard that was usually there behind her professional friendliness, and warming up to me as though I were a good old high-school pal of hers.
Following her stare, I looked at my chest curiously. Then I finally realized what she was saying: loosely clipped to my parka was a Fountain of Love and Life Christmas button that said, “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas to me!”
I know what the button is for. It’s a declaration of my personal belief in the true meaning of Christmas; it’s a sign of recognition that tickles people’s nostalgia for the good old times; it’s my personal protest against the Christian culture in general that has become too eager to conform to the secular world by adopting an “all-inclusive” identity that effectively means no identity. It is many things but perhaps none more important than the fact that it has become a bridge, a common denominator, if you will, that breaks down human barriers and connects me with strangers who suddenly see in me the love of Christ that seems to have disappeared at this special time of the year when it’s supposed to shine most brightly.
“Merry Christmas!” the Starbucks attendant handed me my tall blonde cheerfully and smiled at me one more time to see me off lovingly. I had walked into the store feeling like a piece of frozen meat. But now I walked out with my coffee in hand and a heart filled with warmth and joy all because of a Christmas button!