Unhappy Christmas couples shop divorce vouchers

All I want for Christmas… is a divorce > A British law firm is offering an unusual present for unhappily married couples this Christmas, divorce gift vouchers.

British law firm Lloyd Platt and Company in London said it has received hundreds of enquiries since putting the vouchers on sale last month.

Offering couples half-hour or hour-long advice session with a lawyer, the firm has sold 54 vouchers in three weeks, according to the Daily Telegraph. The firm is calling the vouchers this year’s “must have” present, and cost 140 euros.

“Christmas can be a very stressful time for families as we have always seen by the huge increase of people seeking advice in January” senior partner Vanessa Lloyd Platt told the newspaper. “The vouchers seem to appeal to an enormously wide spread spectrum of people looking for that ‘must have’ gift for Christmas” she said. She added that buyers include husbands, wives, mistresses and people using them as a suggestion to their friends and family members.

However the vouchers have been criticised for encouraging people to seek a divorce rather than resolve their problems through counselling or other means.

“It’s typical ambulance chasing by lawyers who are doing this for business reasons” said Dave Percival, who organises an annual National Marriage Week, which celebrates the institution of marriage.

Lloyd Platt and Company said the vouchers offer people “all the practical options available to them, divorce being only one of the options”.

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Santa not delivering gifts

Police were called in to prevent a clergyman dressed as Father Christmas from delivering presents to children at an asylum centre.

The Rev Canon James Rosenthal, dressed in a red robe with a long white beard, was refused entry by guards at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, UK.

After a stand-off, security guards called the police to remove Mr Rosenthal who is the Anglican Church’s leading expert on Saint Nicholas, reports the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

Mr Rosental said he was “extremely disappointed” that 35 boys and girls at the centre were denied a pre-arranged visit by the patron Saint of children and the imprisoned.

“Saint Nicholas has never been turned away from anywhere before. So I was extremely disappointed not to be able to hand deliver the gifts to the children detained at Yarl’s Wood,” he said.

Serco, a private security company that operates Yarl’s Wood, referred questions to the Home Office. A spokesman said only people subject to stringent security checks can be allowed into the detention centre and there can be no exceptions.

Mr Rosental was accompanied on the trip earlier this month by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey. He said: “This was about bringing a moment of joy to kids locked up in a deplorable situation. I can’t help but contrast the smiles and wonderment on the faces of the children Saint Nicholas visited at a local primary school with the sad fate of those kids who will be locked up in Yarl’s Wood over Christmas.”

The £300 worth of presents, donated by churchgoers, were eventually loaded into an unmarked van by security guards.

Does she love me, Santa, or does she love me not?

Does she love me, Santa, or does she love me not?

Nicosia resident Sergios Christou said that 20 years ago Cypriots would put gifts under the Christmas Tree on January 1st.

“It seems people have now been Europeanised and they instead gather and exchange gifts on Christmas Day”, Christou said.

“For a while we did gifts on both Christmas and New Year’s but that got to be too much. I actually prefer giving gifts on Christmas. It gives the kids more time to enjoy their presents over the holiday period”.

Despite the change in date, Christou said that many of the traditions, like putting biscuits and milk out the night before Santa comes to vist, still exist, they just now come a week earlier. And Ayios Vassilis, the Saint celebrated on January 1st has become synonymous with Santa Claus.

“The other day my six-year-old granddaughter suggested that Santa might be happier if we instead put out beer for him this year”.

Christou said that a common village tradition is to cross a dry leaf by a fireplace and then, after making a wish to Ayios Vassilis, toss it into the fire.

“Before tossing the dry leaf into the flames, you would say “Ayie Vassili Vasilia deixe tze fanerose an me agapa o…” (Ayie Vassili King, show and illuminate if I am loved by…) and then you name whoever’s love you are hoping for.

“If the leaf jumped up after you dropped it in the fire, then that meant the person loves you. If not, you got depressed and tried again”.

Christmas goodies to remind overseas troops of home

NZ Defence Force personnel and RSA volunteers have packed Christmas parcels for New Zealand troops posted overseas > Marmite and Bluebird potato chips will be among Christmas goodies for Kiwi forces overseas this Christmas.

In a tradition going back more than 90 years, 500 parcels have been packed with treats to remind military personnel serving overseas, of the small joys of home. The parcels, which also include Anzac biscuits, were packed at the Naval Reserve Base in Wellington earlier this week by defence force staff and Royal New Zealand Returned Services’ Association volunteers.

They will be sent around the world to 13 countries, including Afghanistan, Antarctica, East Timor, Solomon Islands and the Sinai. The RSA began the tradition of sending parcels to troops overseas during the First World War.

“Opening one of these parcels brings a small part of New Zealand to those troops who are away from their families at Christmas,” commander joint forces New Zealand, Rear Admiral Jack Steer said. “I am extremely proud of the work our personnel are doing overseas and I hope that seeing the reminders of home will bring them all a smile on Christmas Day,” he said.

One of the packers was New Zealand Army Captain Alistair Rankin who got Christmas parcels when he served in Singapore in the late 1970s and Cambodia as part of the mine action centre in 2004. “You go for months without the comforts of home so to receive parcels like these at Christmas is a real morale booster.”

New Zealand had 771 personnel deployed overseas and about 500 would be deployed over the Christmas period.

Christmas shoppers hit the web

We are now less than 100 days from Christmas and many people this year intend to by Christmas presents online, an expert has said.

Jason Lloyd from moneysupermarket.com claims that an estimated 70 per cent of internet users will buy presents over the internet. “The rapid adoption and use of broadband, the expected poor weather and the resultant effect on our transport systems, coupled with the added stress of fighting on the high street to get the presents you want” will all encourage people to shop online” he said.

Figures from the Interactive Media in Retail Group show online spending increased by about 50 per cent in the ten weeks before Christmas, and peaked at £7.66 billion in 2006.

This year, it anticipates the figure will exceed £10 billion as average spending is set to increase. The average amount spent online this year is anticipated to be £376 for women and £365 for men.

Financial advice site Fool.co.uk warns shoppers to give plenty of time for their shopping to ensure they do not have to cope with the cost using only one month’s salary.

Christmas gifts sent to Cameroon

More than 500 shoeboxes of Christmas presents were sent to a village in Cameroon thanks to kind-hearted staff at the QEII and Lister hospitals.

Staff from women’s services, children’s services and the renal department at the East and North Herts Hospitals NHS Trust sent the presents to children in the village of Ntumbaw to make sure they had a happy Christmas.

The boxes were filled with pens, books, toys, toothbrushes and sweets and were taken to Cameroon by the New Jerusalem Foundation, of which renal dialysis unit sister Mandy Northover is secretary.

Scouting charity Christmas expedition

Meet Piotr Trombinski of the Scouting Association of Poland and come with him as he delivers Christmas presents to Poles in Ukraine and Belarus.

Piotr Trombinski, 23 years old, has collected goods from all over Poland to send to Poles in Ukraine and Belarus.

Accompanied by around 500 scouts aged between 13 – 23, and packed into nine buses, Piotr went to distribute the presents to around 1500 Polish families in territories that used to be in Poland.

Listen to the news by the Polskie Radio SA > Listen

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