Oh, so you want to see Santa? Well, do you have an appointment? Believe it or not, that's what shoppers will be asked this year at Macy's flagship store on 34th Street in New York City. For the first time ever, sitting on Santa's lap is by appointment only-a move Macy's says is to cut down wait times and make it easier to see the jolly old elf. Starting this week, eager families can go online to sign up for a time slot from 30 minutes to five days in advance. No walk-ins allowed. "Santa's a popular guy, so the wait times to meet him have been quite long in previous years, especially on our busiest days," the company said. Santaland is a 13,000-square-foot North Pole village complete with live elves and a train display, plus the world-famous Santa, immortalized in the film Miracle on 34th Street. The store opened in 1902. The department store says families can cancel a reservation and make a new one at any time. (Newser)
Holocaust survivor Eliahu Pietruszka shuffled his 102-year-old body through the lobby of his retirement home last week toward a stranger he had never met and collapsed into his arms in a teary embrace. Pietruszka had spent his entire life thinking his entire family had perished in WWII but learned only a few days ago that a younger brother had also survived, and his brother's son, 66-year-old Alexandre, was flying in from a remote part of Russia to see him. Pietruszka was 24 when he fled Warsaw in 1939, heading to the Soviet Union and leaving behind his parents and twin brothers Volf and Zelig, who were nine years younger. His parents and Zelig were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a Nazi death camp, but Volf managed to escape. The brothers briefly corresponded before Volf was sent by the Russians to a Siberian work camp, where Pietruszka assumed he had died. Then two weeks ago, his grandson, Shakhar Smorodinsky, received an email from a cousin in Canada who was working on her family tree and uncovered the truth. After Smorodinsky arranged a brief Skype chat, Alexandre decided to come see the uncle he never knew he had. "You are a copy of your father," said a shaking Pietruszka. "I haven't slept in two nights waiting for you." (Newser)
Mom Going to Jail for Three Years for Refusing Medical Treatment for Dead
Son In Calgary, Canada, Tamara Lovett has been sentenced to three years in prison for failing to medically treat the strep throat that caused her seven-year-old son's death. She was found guilty of criminal negligence after only treating her son Ryan's illness with home remedies in 2013, refusing to take him to a doctor. When she found him unresponsive on the floor, Lovett did call 911, but Ryan was already dead by the time paramedics arrived. During the sentencing, Justice Kristine Eidsvik called Ryan's death "senseless" and said the decision to give Lovett prison time is meant to send a warning to parents. (CBC News)
Lawsuit Over Genetically Abnormal Kids
Two couples are suing a New York fertility doctor and his clinic after giving birth to children with a genetic abnormality later traced back to donated eggs. The two children, both born in 2009, have Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that can lead to intellectual and developmental impairments. The parents argue the doctor and the clinic failed to test the women who donated the eggs to determine whether they were carriers for Fragile X. They're seeking damages for the added expenses of raising a disabled child. Attorneys for the Reproductive Medicine Associates clinic and physician Alan Cooperman argue the suit was filed too late, because the statute of limitations began counting down when the women ended fertility treatment after becoming pregnant - and not when the children were born or when the genetic abnormality was diagnosed. The parents filed the lawsuits two years after the children were born. (Newser)
Your Dead Hamster Wasn't Just Hibernating Was He?
Over in Oxfordshire, England, mother Lisa Goldman is warning other parents after she went to bury her daughter's dead hamster, Fudge, when the little guy suddenly woke up. Turns out he was hibernating. After posting about her experience on Facebook, hundreds of people were horrified, realizing that they may have buried their hamsters alive. Wild hamsters hibernate during the winter but wake up periodically to feed. In a warm house, artificial light and temperatures usually suppress this hibernation which means it isn't common for domestic hamsters to hibernate. However, if your hamster is kept in a colder part of the house, they could go into hibernation during the winter and should be left alone if they do unless it is believed they may be unwell. They will wake up during hibernation to feed so it's important to make sure that they have plenty of fresh water, fresh food and nesting material and to check on them regularly. (Metro)
Wait, Green Beans are Fruit Now?
Green bean casserole-a Thanksgiving staple. Which is a good thing because fresh fruit is an important part of every healthy diet. That's right-we said fruit-well, at least according to Toby Adams, director of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden. Adams says, "Fruits are structures that contain seeds. And a green bean is, basically, a pod that has seeds inside of it." He goes on to explain that the green bean is a "dry fruit," which means that when it's fully developed, the pod will dry out and crack open to reveal a mature seed. Then -- fingers crossed -- the seed will enter the earth, eventually germinating and growing more green beans. So beans are fruit. Cool, right? But what if, at the Thanksgiving table, your smart-aleck cousin insists that the green bean can't be a fruit because it's a legume? Please let them know that it's both. Because the legume, in fact, is a type of dry fruit. (Mashable)
What the What?
A 22-year-old Norwegian student has been handed a $30,400 fine for drunken driving! But don't feel too bad for her - Katharina G. Andresen is reportedly Norway's richest woman, with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $1.23 billion. As it works out, Norway determines DUI fines based on the defendant's income. Guess she's getting off easy. Newspaper Finansavisen reported that Oslo City Court said the penalty could have been up to $4.9 million if based on Andresen's assets, but they "have not yielded any dividend yet" and she has no fixed income. Andresen's father gave her a 42% share in the family-owned investment company in 2007, leading Forbes to declare her the world's second-youngest billionaire.(Guardian)