573: Now this is cool and Christmas-y! Online holiday surprises …

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e’re already unwrapping holiday presents at ReadTheSpirit! This generous holiday spirit is because you—our readers—are sending us Emails, letters, Facebook and Twitter notes with holiday ideas, links and (in response to our special appeal on Tuesday) favorite movies and books that put you in a holiday mood! (Keep those notes coming, please.)
    Hanukkah starts on December 11! We’ll have some special Hanukkah treats for you during this Jewish festival of lights and religious freedom. But, here are some cool gifts to enjoy right now!

FIRST, Yes Scrooge Is Alive and …
Wait!!! Here’s a note from a real-life Bob Cratchit!

Bob Cratchit The Spiritual Wanderer, a.k.a. Rodney Curtis, had a very good week … Well, no, he had a bad week … Wellll, it was the best of weeks; it was the worst of weeks.
    Very Dickensian, hmmm?
    Rodney Curtis is a nationally known newspaper photo editor, when he’s not penning terrific memoirs like “Spiritual Wanderer” (Hint! Hint! Rodney’s wise and funny book is a great holiday gift idea!)
    Because the newspaper business is nearly as dead as Jacob Marley in many places—Rodney now has the distinction of having been laid off twice from two different down-sizing newspapers. As always, he writes about these all-too-common American experiences with grace and wit!
    His column on his latest encounter with the Scrooges of journalism wound up linked from a TIME magazine Web site, among many others, and readers are flocking to read what the Wanderer is writing about living hopefully in turbulent times. (Thank you, if you are among the readers already enjoying Rodney’s work on the Spiritual Wanderer Web site.)
    If you haven’t discovered what he’s doing—then, get on over to his Web site before the clock strikes another hour … and the Ghost of …
    Well, you get the idea.

SECOND, Ace Collins and the Hallmark Channel Proclaim:
“BE OF GOOD CHEER!”

Doris Roberts in Mrs Miracle on Hallmark December 2009 is shaping up like a truly Dickensian season for millions.
    To help you navigate this challenging season, we welcomed best-selling author Ace Collins to ReadTheSpirit this week. He showed up for the interview with his own brand-new book, “25 Days 26 Ways,” and his arms overflowing with great ideas for turning Christmas stress into joy! Bothered by commercialization of the holidays? Ace says: You can learn to enjoy it!
    Bothered by long lines? Ace says: What a great way to meet people!
    Thinking of dumping Christmas cards? Ace says: Wait! Here’s how to rethink your Christmas card list!
    PLUS, this weekend, the Hallmark Channel is bringing 79-year-old Doris Roberts back for a starring role in “Mrs. Miracle,” based on the beloved Debbie Macomber novel. Don’t miss it! To learn more, read our review, which explains a few important things about Hallmark’s revision of the popular book.
    On the day our review was published, I visited my dentist’s office—and the office staff told me they can’t wait to see the movie. But one woman was concerned she might miss it! So, here’s the complete schedule of “repeats”: Saturday, December 5 (10p.m. ET/PT, 9CT); Sunday, December 6 (12a.m. ET/PT, 11p.m. CT) and (8p.m. ET/PT, 7CT); Friday, December 11 (8p.m. ET/PT, 7CT) and Saturday, December 12 (2p.m. ET/PT, 1CT).

THIRD: Have you found a great online Advent calendar?

Or, Hanukkah calendar?
We’re finding them … well, we’re finding them hard to find!

Advent Calendar     Advent calendars basically are idea-a-day calendars that help people enjoy this season of spiritual waiting. Sometimes the little “doors” (made of wood, paper, plastic or fabric) contain a story, a candy or a holiday figure.
    Millions are sold each year from inexpensive paper calendars to elaborate folk-art creations—because families love them. That’s actually a big part of the problem in finding online, interactive calendars. Googling for Advent calendars brings up mainly retailers pitching products. Instead, we want to find item-a-day, interactive experiences that we can recommend to you—for free online.
    Now, obviously, there aren’t many Hanukkah calendars—although some do exist. Mainly, the various candles lit during the festival are the markers of these special days. Still, the problem exists: It’s hard to find a good, online, once-a-day Hanukkah offering for families.
    Here at the Home Office, we’ve come up empty time and again in our online searching. Or, maybe our standards are just too high? (Note: My wife Amy Crumm devoted hours to this research and came up with one lame Web site after another—some of them with poorly written links or bad Java coding that crashed her Web browser. Some simply weren’t any fun—or were adequate but just weren’t worth suggesting to friends like our readers. Amy also found that Microsoft’s new search engine www.Bing.com did a much better job than www.Google.com in helping her to find fruitful links in this kind of search.)
    BUT WAIT! Don’t shout “Humbug!” just yet!
    Dr. Rob Pasick, whose wisdom and wit you may recall hearing in radio interviews about “Balanced Leadership,” has set up a once-a-day holiday offering over at his Balanced Leadership Web site!
    Check it out!

PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOU THINK:

    This is a good time to sign up for our Monday-morning ReadTheSpirit Planner by Emailit’s
free and you can cancel it any time you’d like to do so. The Planner
goes out each week to readers who want more of an “inside track” on
what we’re seeing on the horizon, plus it’s got a popular “holidays”
section.

    Not only do we welcome your notes—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and other social-networking sites as well.
    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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