If you were a Starbucks fan and patron over a decade ago, you know that the menu was decidedly less complicated back then. Even still, it could get quite busy, and as one of the few non-college-student baristas at that store, I was often put on the opening shift.
People get serious about a lot of things in the morning, but few things are more serious, more intense, more urgent than that morning caffeine fix. Throw in for good measure a large number of customers who were running late and it was easy to get overwhelmed in the midst of the morning weeds.
One morning it was particularly hectic, and I was having trouble pulling the perfect shots that Starbucks requires be pulled to make any of their espresso-based cups o'Heaven. I was so stressed that I was actually near tears. My manager, a woman not too much older than me but who had years of experience in the art of coffee slinging, pulled me back from the espresso bar, grabbed hold of my shoulders, and looked me in the eye and said:
"Hey. It's just coffee."
Four simple words that I so badly needed to hear. No matter how intense and impatient the energy around me was, it really and truly was just coffee. I needed the perspective to be able to breathe and slow down and shake it off and move on.
This sounds so, so silly, but I'll tell you anyway: sometimes, when I'm in the weeds of life, I imagine my manager with her wild mop of hair and steel blue eyes and firm-but-calm voice pulling me off to the side and saying
Hey. It's just dinner.
Hey. It's just the internet.
Hey. It's just laundry.
And right now, with only five school days before my girls are released for three weeks (three weeks!) of winter break, and I haven't ordered cards yet (is it too late?!), I haven't even started the photo books, and I sure haven't made neighbor gifts or bought stocking stuffers, I'm needing to hear her say
Hey. It's just Christmas.
We'll do the things that need to get done, that we want to get to, and everything else will wait for next year. Or the next. Or we'll never get to it but other things will happily take that place.
And lights will twinkle and carols will be sung and coffee will be served alongside slices of pie and we'll breathe and slow down and shake it off and move on.
Hey. It's going to be okay.