Utah Town Brings Halloween and Christmas to Sick Little Boy

In a close-knit Utah town where time has become a precious commodity for one family, the Christmas lights are already up and Halloween is in full swing 10 days early.

The town of West Jordan has come together to ensure that a 4-year-old boy with only a short time to live gets to make the most of it. Ethan Van Leuven has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for more than half of his life, and doctors have declared that his illness is no longer treatable.

“So the doctors basically said, he’s got two days to a couple of weeks left to live, and so that’s when we thought we would make the most of the last days he has remaining with us,” Ethan’s father, Merrill Van Leuven, told Joe Fryer on TODAY Friday.

On Tuesday night, the community of West Jordan celebrated Halloween 10 days early as Ethan put on his Superman costume and went trick-or-treating. Two days later, the town held a parade in honor of Ethan’s fifth birthday, one month before the actual day.

“Ethan’s having a blast,” his mother, Jennifer Van Leuven, told Fryer. “It’s so much fun to watch his face light up.”

The week of holidays will continue on Friday when the community celebrates Christmas Eve, with everyone on the block putting up Christmas decorations. A local radio station is even switching their format to Christmas music for the day.

“We know that it is a real tough time for them,” one neighbor told Fryer. “We want to be there for them.”

The family and community are aiming to make every moment special for Ethan in his final days. On Saturday, they will celebrate Christmas, Ethan’s favorite holiday.

“It’s a really difficult time, but this just makes it a little bit easier just to see how many people love and support,” Jennifer said.

Dude, There’s Christmas Creep in California

The CBS affiliate in Southern California cannot believe it. Christmas is everywhere and, dude, customers are, like, baffled, confused and angry.

Check out this incredible local report about how bad Christmas creep is in SoCal.

Then check out the facts.

South Coast Plaza is a mall in Costa Mesa that every year gets one of the largest Christmas trees in the country — in October. It isn’t new.

Why do they do it every October? Because trying to get it inside the mall in November is a real pain due to….all the Christmas shoppers.

If CBS LA bothered to do any real reporting they would have talked to the mall and learned that. Other media seems to get that it is a 33-year tradition that makes the news every year.

The reporter claiming “Christmas creep is everywhere” couldn’t help but noticing Costco decorations for sale already. Memo to reporter: Dude, they’ve been for sale since August.

He wraps up the report by suggesting that if you don’t want to see decorations, go to Nordstrom’s — which is really funny because Nordstrom’s never sells Christmas decorations.

Even better, he says that 10 years ago retailers never did this type of thing.

Talk about a journalistic hack.

Schools Under Fire Again for Aiding Christian Relief Organizations

A media report about a West Virginia middle school participating in a charity event serving a Christian-based relief organization in West Virginia has led to threats of potential legal action tied to the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

An individual claiming to be associated with the FFRF has told DefendChristmas.com this will be addressed by legal teams.

This is not new. Last year several high profile media stories put the spotlight on schools participating in Operation Christmas Child, perhaps the most famous Christian relief organization using schools to pack shoe boxes full of hygiene items and small gifts for third world countries.

The argument from groups protesting school participation or threatening lawsuits against them is that the relief organizations use the boxes and the effort to proselyte. By participating in the effort schools are violating the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, they argue.

In the story from West Virginia above the relief organization is Appalachian Outreach, an organization who describes its efforts as “Guided by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit”. According to the news story school time was used to support the effort. “We have the students volunteering here, their time during their phys. ed. classes and health classes to wrap Christmas presents here for Appalachian Outreach,” said Moundsville Middle School teacher, Mike Sforza.

Don’t be surprised if this story hits the media following a letter threatening a lawsuit against the school board over Moundsville Middle School in West Virginia.

A New England Christmas

This is an awesome little video — hardly seen on YouTube but worthy of watching by anyone wanting to feel the Christmas spirit. Great photography of iconic New England Christmas scenes set to a cheery music track that features nothing commercial and sends only a message of “Merry Christmas”. Enjoy!

Toys R Us Pulls Breaking Bad Action Figures

Christmas gets blamed for a lot of stuff. But this is a new one.
Toys R Us sells more at Christmas than any other time of the year. Every fall they get new merchandise they think will sell during the season. This year they got action figures based on the hit show Breaking Bad. The problem? A character in the show is a drug dealer, he has an action figure and he’s accessorized with guns, a bag of cash and some of his signature mix of meth. One reader of Defend Christmas made the giant leap that Christmas is now responsible for glamorizing drug use to children.

Well, everybody can relax now. Toy R Us pulled the toy and Christmas is now, once again, safe for kids.

The whole hubbub began by parents protesting via a Change.org online petition for Toys R Us to remove the ill-conceived toy. (Believe it or not, the toy industry makes this kind of mistake all the time). After more than 8000 signatures Toys R Us got the hint.

At first, Toys R Us claimed that the dolls were in the adult action figure section of the store, and would only be sold to children ages 15 and older.

Apparently, there are adults who buy action figures. Apparently, 15 year olds are adults. But then, looking at a potential loss of sales, Toys R Us caved and took the figures off the shelf entirely.

Those who disagree with this Florida Mom can still buy the figures on Amazon and other online sites not affiliated with Toys R Us. So people can still buy their drug dolls and blame Christmas for it.

Idina Menzel Christmas Preview

Tis the season for new Christmas music videos based on new albums coming out. One of the biggest this year comes from Frozen screecher Idina Menzel, who, we’re sad to report, can’t look more awkward on video than she does on this one. They do throw Buble in there for the ladies but it didn’t seem to loosen up the cardboard that Menzel is. Talk about frigid. She certainly sounds better than she looks:

43 Year Old Christmas Tree Comes Down in South Korea

We forget in the heat of the rhetorical battles of the so-called War on Christmas that Christmas is sometimes used in places where real guns and bullets matter. This week a 43-year old symbol of Christmas and war was removed: South Korean marines have dismantled a 43-year-old Christmas tower on the border with North Korea that the North had threatened at one time to attack with artillery.

North Korea, you see, hates Christmas, religion, and, yes, South Korea.

This wasn’t your usual jolly Christmas tree. Erected on a front-line hilltop northwest of Seoul in 1971, the 59-foot steel tower, tipped with a cross, used to be illuminated with cascades of light bulbs around Christmas during the Cold War years.

Batteries of loudspeakers sent Christmas carols drifting across the snow-capped border into the North, where the totalitarian regime repressed religious freedom.

It was part of a psychological warfare the two Koreas had continued to wage along the 155-mile border even after their three-year Korean War ended with a truce in 1953. Both sides carved their border hills with large slogans exhorting troops from the other side to defect to the capitalist South “for freedom” and to the “people’s paradise” of the communist North. They also sent radio broadcasts and balloons carrying propaganda leaflets into each other’s sky.

North Korea has repeatedly demanded the destruction of the high steel tower on top of a military-controlled hill just three kilometers from the heavily-fortified border.

In the past, it has even threatened to shell the tower which the South has allowed civilian groups to decorate with lights — including a giant illuminated cross at the top — over the Christmas season.

The defence ministry said it was dismantled for the sole reason that the 43-year-old structure had become unsafe.

“The decision was unrelated to inter-Korean relations. Safety was the main reason,” a ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that work to remove the tower had begun back in August.

“There is no plan to replace it with a new one,” he said.

The South switched off the tree under a 2004 deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda. It also suspended loudspeaker broadcasts and a propaganda leaflet campaign using large helium balloons.

The deal was scrapped in 2010 following the sinking of a South Korean warship which Seoul blamed on a North Korean submarine.

In 2011 the tower was not illuminated in the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s death and it stayed dark over Christmas 2013 when military tensions were running high.

The North has always condemned the Christmas lights show as a provocative display of psychological warfare.

Sara Evans Announces New Christmas Album

Country superstar Sara Evans has announced that her new album titled “At Christmas” will debut on November 17th. The CD features nine classic Christmas and one original work, including a song where she sings with her daughters.

“I was very emotional recording this,” Evans told ETonline. “I was doing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ and I started thinking about my kids and when I’m older, or even when I’m gone, how a Christmas album is so important because it’s so timeless.

“I was thinking about them having their holiday celebrations and listening to my album and I got so emotional,” she continued, adding with a smile: “and also probably because I was exhausted.”

Headline News Joins the Christmas Creep Parade Two Months Late

Headline News — what used to be part of Turner Broadcasting known for 24-hour non-stop news — seems to be in a bit of a rut. The news channel is still obsessed with the long ago convicted Jodi Arias and now they are jumping on the Christmas creep bandwagon.

Yup, on October 20th, HLNTV.com is OUTRAGED to see Christmas BEFORE HALLOWEEN and they mean it, doggone it, BECAUSE THEY USE ALL CAPS TO TALK ABOUT IT:

One of these things is not like the others: Pumpkin carving, apple picking, CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. In what can only be described as a seasonal scandal, Christmas-themed items have already started appearing in stores.

In case you have forgotten, it’s only October… as in, there’s still Halloween and Thanksgiving to get through first. Although some people are outraged by the very early Christmas cheer, other shoppers were overjoyed.

Would someone please advise HLNTV.com they are two months late to this party?

Christmas creep, officially, peaks as breaking news in August and September.

They need to move on to complaining about Black Friday killing Thanksgiving already.

Dukes of Hazard Christmas

It has been 35 years since the debut of Dukes of Hazard. So it’s time to come out with a Christmas album, right?

John Schneider and Tom Wopat — that 70s era duo who played Bo and Luke Duke — sing lead on a brassy, big-band backed album of Christmas tunes.

“I think this is a fresh take on the Christmas album,” Wopat said in a statement. “Jazz fans and serious musicians will appreciate what we’ve done with these tunes. Our arranger John Oddo has a true affinity for that classic ’50s and ’60s sounds.”

“I love singing with John Schneider,” he continued. “The timbre of our voices match, the harmonies blend so easily. Plus, he’s a barrel of laughs.”

The Dukes of Hazzard premiered in 1979, and ran for seven seasons before being canceled in 1985. The series follows cousins Bo (Schneider) and Luke Duke (Wopat) as they race around in their 1969 Dodge Charger and cause trouble with their various escapades. Catherine Bach co-starred as cousin Daisy, with Denver Pyle as Uncle Jesse, Sorrell Booke as county commissioner Boss Hogg and James Best as county sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.

Schneider currently stars as Jim Cryer on OWN soap opera The Haves and Have Nots. Wopat last appeared as Ryan Hutton in ABC Family movie Lovestruck: The Musical in 2013.