Figuratively Speaking For December 15, 2017

Year that Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, placed a Christmas tree in the White House for the first time, according to PolitiFact.com and the National Christmas Tree Association: 1856

Year that President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn: 1923.

Year the National Christmas Tree was not lit until Dec. 22, because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy: 1963

Source: University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners.

Percentage of Christmastime churchgoers in the U.S. who say they attend services to "honor Jesus," according to a survey from the evangelical research agency LifeWay Research: 77

Percentage who attend to observe tradition: 9

Percentage who say they attend to be with family and friends: 9

Percentage who attend wanting to get in the Christmas spirit: 3

Source: LifeWay Research.

Percentage of parents who use a child's behavior to dictate how much money is spent on their gifts, according to a survey by Lending Tree: 6

Percentage of families who receive wrapped presents from Santa, as opposed to unwrapped gifts: 79

Source: Lending Tree.

In 2017, cost to buy a partridge in a pear tree, according to the whimsical economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management based on the prices of gifts in the holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas": $219.95

Price for two turtle doves: $375

For nine ladies dancing: $7,552.84

For 10 lords a-leaping: $5,618.90

Source: PNC Wealth Management.

Percentage of adults who say their at-home children believe in Santa Claus, according to a new Pew Research Center poll: 19

Percentage of children who plan to "pretend" that St. Nick will visit their house on Christmas Eve: 70

Percentage of parents who said that Santa had "visited" their childhood homes with presents years ago: 72

Percentage of parents who are planning to have him visit their kids this Christmas: 31

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Ranks of crowds/long lines, aggressive/thoughtless driving in shopping centers and bad traffic on the list of holiday dreads as cited by Americans, according to Consumer Reports: 1, 2, 3

Rank of "that fruitcake" on the list of the least-favorite holiday food gifts: 1

Source: Consumer Reports.

Percentage of respondents to The Marriage Proposal survey by Chillisauce who chose Christmas Eve, Santa's busiest day of the year, as the best time to pop the question: 31

Percentage of proposals that are expected to happen around Christmas: 40

Ranks of Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve and a birthday on the list of the best times for a marriage proposal: 2, 3, 4

Source: Chillisauce Ltd. Contact Sir/Madam at 020 7299 1831.

Percentage of "dog people" who will buy their pup a gift this holiday season, according to a survey released today by BarkBox: 80

Percentage of dog people who say their pup helps them cope with stressful events during the holiday season, including being around difficult family members, arguments among family or going to extended family's house: 85

Source: BarkBox

Percentage of Americans who plan to spend more on holiday travel than gifts, according to a survey by Orbitz Worldwide: 64

Busiest day for Christmas travel: Dec. 23

Source: Orbitz.

Idle Thought

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." -- Charles Dickens

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre@bwr.eastlink.ca.)

More like Figuratively Speaking