Dear Starbucks

Thank you so much for playing such an important role in Remembrance Day this year. I was filled with palpable solemnity upon walking into my local coffee shop on November 4 and seeing your typically green motif swapped out for poppy-red signage, aprons and coffee cups. Granted, the cups have a surprising amount of green and white balls and diamonds, but I presume there are poppies and verses from “In Flanders Field” in the portion covered up by the cardboard ring that protects my hand. I would remove it to check, but your beverages are so gloriously hot. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am, however, perplexed by the level of puzzlement displayed by your staff when I complement their Remembrance Day aprons. Their eyes above their masks scrunch up and they try to convince me that they are Christmas aprons. I don’t know why you’ve instructed them to joke with customers like that. I like to think I have a good sense of humour, but I’m failing to find the funny. We all know that this year’s Toronto Santa Claus Parade isn’t until November 21, and that’s usually seen as the true beginning of the Christmas shopping season. And given the gravitas Remembrance Day holds, it’s simply bad taste to encroach on it with something seen as more commercial. Of course, this is no doubt apparent to a company as socially-responsible as Starbucks, with its wise leader Howard Schultz – he of the lightning-quick exploratory run for President of the United States. Someone with that level of self-awareness should have a good sense of what’s proper and what’s not. Yes, of course he does.

Still, I’m somewhat puzzled by the presence of snowman cookies on your dessert case. It is, after all, only a little past the middle of fall, and the trees are currently in their full autumnal splendour. I think the fox cookie could have remained a little longer. Honestly, these sugar cookies all taste the same, so replacing them at all seems a mostly pointless exercise.

But now, as I type this letter to you sitting at one of your tables by one of your windows using your electricity and your WiFi, I’m hearing what is unmistakably “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by holiday bellower Mariah Carey. This is making me doubt myself. Could the baristas have been telling the truth about the holiday décor? Could all this red have nothing to do with poppies? I don’t want to believe it to be true. Surely, if I peel away the cardboard ring from around my cup, the poetry of John McCrae will be there to set my mind at ease. I’ll take a deep breath, and peel away.


With utmost devastation,

Dimetre Alexiou