The following events have been occasioned in some way by the approach of the holidays:

A shopper in Los Angeles was robbed of his children's Christmas gifts and locked in the trunk of his car in a department store parking lot. Police found and rescued him 12 hours later. The victim, Jerry Anthony, is a field worker with a Los Angeles agency that tries to stop street violence.

A record 80 tons of Maine lobster has been shipped from Bangor, Maine, to Paris this week to help the French celebrate Christmas. A spokesman for a seafood cooperative said demand has been helped by the low price of the dollar relative to the franc. "To the French, lobster for Christmas is like turkey in America," he said.

In Brigend, Wales, a 95-year-old widow gave a Christmas caroler a glass of lemonade and some spare change. In return, he stole her purse, which contained her life savings of around $174.

In Santa Monica, Calif., a shopping center has installed its Santa Claus in the World's Tallest Indoor Sandcastle, made from 160 tons of sand plus water. Features of the castle include sand toy soldiers who greet children by name, a train with a steam engine that puffs smoke, a 12-foot Santa throne of sand, and singing gift-wrapper Beverly Craveiro, who trills carols while she wraps purchases.