Saving Christmas—avoid Xmas hell; here’s best of Web

Seriously now, DON’T try this at home! It’ll only depress you. Don’t search for best Christmas websites using Google or other onilne search engines. You’ll find yourself caught in endless circles of the worst online retail hell. Even Dante would be horrified. We’re not opposed to responsible online retailing, but some of these Christmas sites are obvious scams! Apparently, web-savvy Grinches have snapped up a bunch of holiday web addresses that sound family friendly—but aren’t.

Want to do a “good deed” to restore holiday sanity? Stop by “What’s a True Necessity?” in our own OurValues website and add your comment about what’s truly essential for Christmas. That’s a certified “good deed.”

Are we afraid of Web Grinches who’ve taken over the search engines? Naw!!! We are professional journalists, after all. We are your eyes and ears on the horizon, looking for the best in spiritual media. So, we took it as a personal challenge to elbow out those Internet scamsters—and find these great Christmas sites …

St. Nicholas Center—best of the ‘real’ Santa Claus

Our friend Carol Myers deserves a huge “Merry Christmas” for building the world’s best St. Nicholas website. No exaggeration! Carol and her colleague Jim Rosenthal have devoted years to amassing this enormous gift to families.

Check out Our Festivals-and-Holidays Christmas Story

Each year, we cover 100s of holidays celebrated by religious communities around the world. And, this week, we’ve got a fascinating story about the religious traditions of Christmas. Our story includes lots of links to travel further into faith. We’ve even got links to some traditional recipes.

NORAD tracks Santa! Nostalgic News Is Back

Remember those black-and-white TV news reports in the ’50s and ’60s about Santa’s sleigh showing up on the U.S. early warning system? Well, a bunch of good-hearted online groups, including units of the U.S. Air Force, have reproduced that experience online.

White House offers Simple Gifts

One of the few “public” sites that has cool Christmas offerings—without annoying pop-up ads trying to sell us tickets to a holiday getaway—is the site for “our” house, the White House. There’s a video on this year’s Simple Gifts theme, an interactive opportunity to post a holiday message for people serving in the military and even a couple of recipes. (And, yes, because it is “our” house and “we” are diverse, there are links to earlier White House Hanukkah posts on the same page.)

Read Christmas Classics from Dickens, Henry and Baum

Unless you’re a regular visitor to the massive Gutenberg website of free books, Web search engines can send you to hell and back looking for these Christmas classics. So, we’ve gathered a cluster of the best links to Christmas classics. (Note: If you’re new to Gutenberg, look around the site and you’ll quickly find ways to download books to read on your computer, print at home or load into your e-reading devices.)

Story of the 1914 Christmas Truce

Hollywood loves this story. Video versions of “Christmas Truce” tales are available each year before Christmas. Some stories are set in WWII during the Battle of the Bulge. Some depict the well-documented truce during WWI. But what’s fiction—and what’s the true story of the famous 1914 truce? Lots of Web sites tell the story, but we recommend the Christmas Truce story in Michael Duffy’s labor of love—his website called First World War that he’s been expanding over the past decade.

Something Silly for Cat Fanciers: Cats in Christmas Trees

Yes. That’s about the size of it: Cats in trees. If that idea seems dumb to you—move on to the next item. If you love cats, then you may enjoy this odd-ball webpage called “Christmas Decorating 101” that is a clever collection of snapshots. Then, more snapshots. Oh, and there’s even a link to “Page 2”—even more cats in trees. (Hey, either it’s your cup of catnip—or not.) Want more substantive pet stuff? Check out our 6-part series on terrific books about the animals we love.

For All Those Weary Retailers: Someone Will Put It Back

Toilet tissue dumped in a clothing aisle.Millions of Americans work in retail sales and, at this time of year, one of the Grinchiest things we can do is—dump merchandise we don’t want in some random spot in a store. This drives the men and women who staff our stores—nuts. Imagine piles of discarded foods, department store fitting rooms heaped with discarded clothes—and weary retailers sorting out our messes. Well, this website makes the point that it’s grotesque. (Warnings: This site may load slowly; also it’s aimed at adults and occasionally the language is R-rated.) The site reminds us that, sometimes, it’s simply a “good deed” to put things back where we found them, because someone else will have to put it back.

Speaking of Good Deeds: Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

Audubon hosts this fascinating webpage about the annual “Christmas” assessment of our winged neighbors—which actually takes place in early January. Did you know that this annual event, involving thousands of volunteers, began as a 19th-century hunting practice. The modern count, focused on conservation rather than hunting, is 110 years old this year.

Finally, Want to See ‘Our’ Tree Decorated in 1 Minute?

The White House provides this time-lapse video of tree decoration in “our” house. Click the video screen, below. It only takes a minute …


We want our international conversation to continue

Conversation is far better than the dangerous shouting matches we’ve been witnessing in our global culture. So, please, email us at [email protected] and tell us what you think of our stories—and, please tell a friend to start reading along with you!

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