Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 21, 2008

Estimated total price of the 12 Days of Christmas gift list, up sharply due to gas and gold prices and bird flu, according to the annual PNC Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management: $21,080

Percentage increase over last year that this represents for your true love: 8.1

Cost of "a partridge in a pear tree" this year, both up 33.3 percent due largely to higher delivery costs: $214.99

Current cost of the "five golden rings" given on the fifth day, a drop of 11.4 percent as retailers are trying to move luxury merchandise in light of concerns with the slowing economy: $349.95

Individual pay for the "maids-a-milking," at minimum wage, making an hour of their time the cheapest gift on the list: $6.55

Overall cost for the gift-giver who goes all out and gives the repeated gifts for each day as detailed in the verses of the song: $86,608.51

Source: PNC Wealth Management.

Percentage of physicians representing various religious backgrounds, including Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Scientologist, Islamic, Shinto, Sikh and other religious traditions as well as those with no religious traditions, who believe that miracles have occurred in the past, according to HCD Research: 72

Percentage who believe that they can occur today: 70

Percentage of physicians who indicated that they encourage their patients to pray: 66

Source: HCD Research Inc. Contact Vince McGourty at (908) 483-9121 or e-mail vince.mcgourty@hcdi.net.

Estimated number of turkeys that will be eaten at Christmas, according to the National Turkey Federation: 22 million

In order to have enough for the feast and leftovers, too, recommended number of pounds of uncooked turkey per person to buy: 1

Source: National Turkey Federation (NTF).

Percentage of U.S. respondents who plan to travel for the holidays, according to TripAdvisor's Holiday Travel survey: 42

Percentage who will see family and friends for the holidays: 81

Percentage who plan to "escape" family by taking a trip this holiday season: 13

Source: TripAdvisor.

Percentage of moms interested in finding a way to keep the entire family entertained, who agreed that it was difficult to keep everyone amused during the holidays, according to Microsoft's "Xbox 360 Holiday Entertainment Survey": 40

Percentage of adult respondents who said that too much family time around the holidays can get boring: 33

Ranks of watching movies/TV and playing video games on the list of the most popular ways for 18- to 49-year-olds to have fun over the holidays: 1, 2

Source: Microsoft.

Of the companies that typically give year-end bonuses, percentage that say they will be the same or smaller than last year, according to the findings of Battalia Winston's annual survey on corporate holiday celebrations: 62

Percentage that expect year-end bonuses to go up: 6

Source: Battalia Winston.

Ranks of shopping (35.4 percent), traveling (20.5 percent) and hanging Christmas lights (17.9 percent) that respondents rated as the worst part of the holidays, according to a survey by Redbox: 1, 2, 3

When asked to share the holiday traditions in their family, percentage of women who said decorating a tree: 86.3

Percentage of men who said exchanging gifts: 81.6

Source: Redbox Automated Retail LLC.

Percentage of women who buy their pets holiday or birthday presents, according to Lifetime Networks: 68

Percentage who take their pets on vacation: 36

Source: Lifetime Television.

Year that Prohibition was repealed and alcohol sales were once again legalized: 1933

Percentage of Americans who support laws and regulations that are proven to reduce the number of drunk driving fatalities and prevent underage drinking, according to a national survey by the Center for Alcohol Policy and supported by America's beer distributors: 96

Percentage of respondents who agree that state and local laws regarding alcohol regulations should be decided by lawmakers and citizens, not by judges: 89

Source: Center for Alcohol Policy.

Percentage of Americans who chose red wine over white wine, according to an Allrecipes Wine Survey: 62

Ranks of merlot (28.5 percent), cabernet sauvignon (23.7 percent), pinot noir (16.2 percent) and syrah (9.9 percent) on the list of favorite red wines chosen by respondents: 1, 2, 3, 4

Ranks of chardonnay (30.7 percent), riesling (24.6 percent), pinot gris (18 percent) and sauvignon blanc (13.9 percent) on the list of favorite white wines chosen by respondents: 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: Allrecipes.com.

Idle Thought

"I see that sensible men and conscientious men all over the world were of one religion -- the religion of well-doing and daring; men of sturdy truth, men of integrity and feeling for others." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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