As people of faith celebrate the holiday season with worship, Christmas carols, Nativity scenes, and generous giving to the poor and needy, there are always “the Grinches” — those people who try to zap the joy and meaning out of the season however they can.
Don’t let them!
Forewarned is forearmed, so check out some of the worst grinches of Christmas 2016.
1.) The Cyber Grinch
We’ve all had that hesitation when purchasing from an unfamiliar website over the holidays — “Is this really safe?” Cyber grinches know you’re hunting bargains and conducting transactions — so they are online, too. As recent Kaspersky Lab threat statistics revealed, in 2014 and 2015 the proportion of phishing pages that collect credit cards details during December was 9 percent higher than the average for the rest of the year, Helpnetsecurity.com reported.
How to keep your financial information safe? When using a new site for purchases, read reviews and see what others think of that site. When buying online, be alert to the kinds of information you are asked for in order to complete the transaction, advises Staysafeonline.com. Make sure you think it is necessary for you to give certain information to a vendor. Credit cards are generally the safest option. They allow buyers more control to seek a credit from the vendor if the product isn’t delivered — or isn’t exactly what was ordered.
2.) The Delivery Grinch
“Porch Pirates” are among the sneakiest criminals. These thieves follow the mailman and snatch gifts right from a homeowner’s porch. The predators will ring a doorbell to see if someone is home before taking a package. There are a few ways to thwart these grinches, if you’re ordering last-minute gifts: UPS offers an online tool called My Choice, as does FedEx with its Delivery Manager. With both, you can instruct drivers to leave a package at a back door, with a building manager, or with neighbors.
You also can have deliveries diverted to another address or placed on hold. UPS provides a list of partner merchants such as UPS stores, pharmacies, or convenience stores that have agreed to accept deliveries.
3.) The Red Kettle Grinch
What kind of grinch steals a Salvation Army red kettle? An iconic Red Kettle used by the Salvation Army to collect spare change was stolen from outside a King Soopers store in Gunbarrel, Colorado, this week. Police say about $20 was taken, along with the kettle. The public may be getting a little “grinchier,” too — Salvation Army donations are down this year in several states including Ohio, Alaska and New Jersey.
The Red Kettle has faced opposition in the last few years, as LGBT grinches have whined that they are raising money for evangelical purposes that go against their agenda. Feeding and the poor should be on everyone’s agenda during the Christmas season.
4.) The Atheist/ACLU Grinch
A Nativity scene at the Grant Parish Courthouse in Louisiana has become a target of the ACLU — some of the biggest year-round grinches. If something is wholesome or traditional, you can bet the ACLU will file suit against it. In a letter to the Grant Parish Police Jury, the ACLU of New Orleans said “the constitution doesn’t allow such a scene in isolation,” reported Breitbart.com, writing that a secular Christmas display must sit beside the nativity scene.
5.) The Anti-Charity Grinch
And in perhaps the “grinchiest” move all season, the American Humanist Association (AHA) went to court in Colorado to try to stop public school children from volunteering for a program that sends care packages to other children in need, reported Becketfund.org, a non-profit legal and educational group in Washington, D.C.
AHA wants to stop shoeboxes packed with items such as toothbrushes because the boxes also contain religious messages about the true meaning of Christmas.
Operation Christmas Child asks volunteers to pack shoeboxes for kids of different age groups with items including school supplies, small toys, and basic hygiene items like toothpaste and soap. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has given more than 100 million shoebox gifts to children in over 130 countries.
AHA has been trying to stop public school children from volunteering for programs like this since 2013, when it sent “letters of warning” to school districts in Colorado and South Carolina after Operation Christmas Child was invited into schools, said Becketfund.org.
“We’re talking about schoolchildren putting together care packages for other children who are in need. If we can’t support that at Christmas, we are truly living in Scrooge’s world,” said Kristina Arriaga, executive director of Becket Law.
Meanwhile, in Boston, two very different holiday displays went up Thursday near the State House. A Nativity scene was erected at the State House at the same time Boston atheists were unfurling a banner on the Boston Common, reported The Boston Globe.
Sarah Wunsch, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, told the Globe that displaying the Nativity scene and the menorah without other non-religious symbols may be ruled unconstitutional. “I think both of them are inappropriate and don’t belong there,” Wunsch said. “There are ways to celebrate the holiday season without taking on these important religious symbols.”
Hmmm. Sounds pretty pointless to most thinking folks.