Figuratively Speaking for December 20, 2009

Date of the probable first flight of Santa's sleigh, a versatile, all weather, multipurpose, vertical-short-takeoff-and-landing vehicle capable of traveling vast distances without refueling and deployed, as far as we know, only on Christmas Eve (and briefly for a test flight about a month before Christmas), according to NORAD: Dec. 24, 343 A.D.

Length of the sleigh, built by the North Pole-based Kringle and Elves Inc.: 75 cc (candy canes), or 150 lp (lollipops)

Weight at takeoff: 75,000 gd (gumdrops)

Propulsion: 9 rp (reindeer power)

Armament: Antlers (purely defensive)

Climbing speed: One "T" (Twinkle of an eye)

Max speed: Faster than starlight

Source: NORAD

Ranks of Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Tom Brady on the list of of quarterbacks who men said they would want to play on their team but wouldn't want near their girlfriend, according to a survey by Avalanche LLC: 1, 2, 3

Ranks of Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Eli Manningon the list of quarterbacks who women would want to play on their team, and then tackle later: 1, 2, 3

Source: Date.com.

Percentage of Americans who report that they personally need an "underwear overhaul" this holiday season, more than anyone else on their shopping list, according to a survey by Jockey International: 43

According to a previous Jockey survey, percentage of Americans who own underwear that's 5 or more years old: 25

Source: Jockey International.

Percentage of travelers who plan to see relatives over the December holidays, according to TripAdvisor's Holiday Travel Survey: 80

Percentage who have cut a family trip shorter than planned because they were "family-ed" out: 19

Source: TripAdvisor.

Approximate number of real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association: 25 million to 30 million

For every real Christmas tree harvested, number of seedlings that are planted the following spring: 1 to 3

Percentage of artificial trees worldwide that are manufactured in China, according to the U.S. Commerce Department: 80

Source: National Christmas Tree Association.

Average price for evergreens this year, making it difficult for tree vendor to break even, according to IbisWorld research: $25 to $30

Source: IBISWorld.

Percentage of American grooms who do the proposing, according to about.com: 99

Percentage of proposals that occur in December: 15

Source: About.com.

Percentage of Americans who celebrate Christmas who get six hours or less of sleep the night before gifts are exchanged, according to a new Ipsos Public Affairs conducted on behalf of sleepbetter.org: 49

Percentage of Americans who use the Christmas vacation to sleep in more than usual: 43

Percentage who say they sleep better than usual over the Christmas vacation (even though many are deprived the night before the gift exchange): 22

Source: Ipsos Reid Public Affairs.

Percentage of renters who say they are trimming back their holiday budgets this season and are spending less on gifts, travel and entertainment than they did in 2008, according to Apartments.com: 65

Percentage of renters who said they are pinching their pennies due to the loss of a job or taking a pay cut at work: 30

Source: Apartments.com.

Percentage of moms who plan to shop at mass merchandisers/supercenters for the holidays, down 2 percent from 2008, according to a survey conducted by The Marketing to Moms Coalition: 85

Anticipated holiday shopping percentage increase for department stores this year: 10 to 47

Source: Marketing to Moms Coalition.

Idle Thought

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." -- George Bernard Shaw

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

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