If I could offer a gift to my friends today, it would be my view of America through the lens of my cozy seat at a two person table at my Starbucks. Comfortably situated, still in my black and pale pink workout outfit, I am at home here with my tall Americano generously sweetened with half and half and set to the side of green apple slices, brie, roasted almonds and cranberries. As a commoner, my personalized gold Starbucks card is accepted with a friendly smile by the cheerful staff who recognize me with or without mascara, morning and evening.
I bought a pound of ground Christmas Blend coffee, too. I take portions of this place home with me and enjoy it there with family and friends as often as others will indulge. I suppose it’s the home of which Starbucks fashioned its strategy and design that draws most of us in. It’s the echoing memory of being with loved ones around the kitchen table with classically comforting tunes dancing around us that waltzes among the conversations, secrets shared, and dreams pondered. Sometimes, I see my own meandering thoughts and daydreams in the whimsy whip carelessly afloat rich coffee. And so, I stir and write.
Today’s gift would be incomplete without the accompanying sounds of classical holiday music streaming online through my headphones. I am here alone with the world all around me and I am part of the jolly holiday scene. Parents and children sip together. Girlfriends commune and laugh. The man next to me intently studies his research. Baristas smile and serve and clean and dish out the Starbucks Experience; it’s in their every gesture. And, Christmas wakes up in each stroke of my streaming prose performed by classically trained pianists, its arms stretch around me. I’m led in the familiar dance of the holiday season through music that stirs up warm memories of my grandma when I still had her near, of my young mom decorating the tree, of wrapping gifts as my sweet puppy curiously unwrapped them, and of being in love. The weight of heartbreak and loss are never far beyond the deeply rich aroma of coffee, chocolate, and egg nog. I touch the memories as I sip, I wipe them from my cheeks.
My gift today would be the fullness of hope as I see it from my public den for communities wrapped around kitchen tables all across America where families and friends are welcomed, warmed, and loved. I’d string a brilliant red ribbon around my gift as a gentle reminder to love one another, to smile at strangers, to be carried away with the magic that lives in children, and to hold tight to those rare moments when the wonder of Christmas fills the space between friends and lovers, families and those we miss, between brewed coffee grounds, familiar melodies…between you and me.