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Top Five Christmas Hoaxes

For every round of Jingle Bells filling the frosty air this Christmas there is a growing chorus of “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” as the trend of Christmas tomfoolery known as Christmas hoaxes, pranks and scams seems to be picking up steam.

Don’t be fooled this festive season. Here is a list of famous and some not-so-nice tricks of Christmas to look out for as you celebrate Christmas online and offline this holiday season:

~ Send a card to a wounded soldier – Sent by email, posted to Facebook and linked on Twitter is this very old hoax about sending a Christmas card to wounded U.S. soldiers. It usually reads:

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year please include the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
C/O Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

This sounds all warm and fuzzy and who wouldn’t want to pass this along?

Well, anyone who doesn’t want to look like a fool. This one has been floating around since the Gulf War. Walter Reed Medical Center is located in Maryland and they get so many cards from this every year that they have a system set up to reject any that come in. And the U.S. Postal service will not deliver any card, letter or package that is not specifically addressed to an individual.

Don’t believe this and don’t pass it on.

~ Ben Stein’s Jewish Christmas Rant – Ben Stein is a political commentator, journalist and actor (he’s the teacher who said “Buehler? Buehler?” in Ferris Buehler’s Day Off) who allegedly wrote a popular Christmas rant when the Obama White House was reported to use the term “holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree”. This is what the rant says:

My confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

That’s a meaty rant. No wonder it gets passed around. But……only some of it is real. In fact, only about half (the top half) is genuine.

Stein did talk about being Jewish and not being offended by Christmas in 2005 on CBS television. But the rest of the rant was made up by who knows how many anonymous Internet writers with a bit of an attitude.

Oh, and that stuff about the White House calling Christmas trees “holiday trees”? Never happened.

~ The Facebook Christmas App Virus – Anyone who has been on Facebook at Christmas has likely seen this one over the past few years. It just never goes away. A well-meaning friend will re-post this warning:

WARNING!!!!!!…..DO NOT USE THE Christmas tree app. on Facebook please be advised it will crash your computer. Geek squad says its one of the WORST trojan-viruses there is and it is spreading quickly. Re-post and let your friends know. THANKS PLEASE REPOST!

No matter all the publicity it has received it still gets reposted as fact. It is fake.

~ The Christmas Lights Webcam – Way back in 2004 a man in Colorado made national news with a nifty little website that allowed users around the world to control the Christmas light display on his house. Millions of online visitors flooded his site in one of the first viral Christmas events ever.

Then he called the Wall Street Journal and confessed his crime – it was all just a hoax. Clicks on his website just changed the pictures of lights on his house…and did nothing to his house at all. He had the last laugh…and has had hundreds of imitators ever since.

~ Nasty Christmas Lights – The UK City of Brighton made world-wide headlines last year after a video was posted showing a rather obscene image crafted in Christmas lights and on display in the very busy business district of Brighton.

The image was obscene, sure enough, but the video was cleverly edited to show lights that never actually made it to the streets of Brighton. Merchants along the identified section report that foot traffic was pretty solid all season thanks to the hoax.

There are bound to be more Christmas urban legends in the future. We will do our best to keep you posted of those we learn.

Father of 7, Grandfather of 7, husband of 1. Freelance writer, Major League baseball geek, aspiring Family Historian.

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