Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 19, 2010

If one were to assume that Santa works in the realm of standard time, estimated length of time he would be able to spend visiting each home, according to NORAD: 2 to 3 ten-thousandths of a second

Length of time Santa's Christmas Eve trip seems to take to us: 24 hours (Though, to Santa it may last days, weeks or even months in standard time because he functions within a different time-space continuum than the rest of us do.)

Source: NORAD.

Percentage of travelers who feel pressure to travel to see family for the holidays, according to the results of a TripAdvisor survey: 22

Percentage who have cut short a holiday family trip because they were "family-ed out": 17

Source: TripAdvisor.

Percentage of survey respondents who start at the top by eating the head of a gingerbread cookie first, according to the results of the annual holiday survey by Dunkin' Donuts: 64

Percentage who go straight for the gingerbread man's legs: 20

Percentage of cookie eaters who begin with a farewell to the arms: 16

Source: Dunkin' Donuts.

Percentage of consumers who will buy less-expensive gifts this year, according to a study by Ogilvy Chicago in partnership with consumer insight firm Communispace: 53

Percentage who are setting a budget: 45

Percentage who are making gifts: 24

Source: Ogilvy & Mather.

Percentage of respondents who believe being together with family and friends is important, more so than getting a raise (51 percent), having a career (47 percent) and having the best of everything (30 percent), according to survey by Bacardi: 64

Percentage of those with high togetherness who also have high well-being: 84

Source: Bacardi USA Inc.

Year that the first Christmas tree debuted at Rockefeller Center, standing only 20 feet tall -- about a quarter of the size of this year's holiday specimen -- and erected by construction workers eager to receive a day's pay in the depths of the Great Depression, according to Time Magazine: 1931

Height of the 2010 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree: 74 feet

Weight of the tree: 12 tons

Source: Time Magazine.

Year that the first Christmas seals went on sale at a table in the Wilmington, Del., post office for a penny apiece, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 1907

Initial goal of the first Christmas seals sale: $300

In 1908, value of the Christmas seals sale: $135,000

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Percentge of U.S. adults who would want to contact Santa Claus if given the chance, according to a survey sponsored by and conducted by Harris Interactive: 80

Percentage of adults who would want to contact Saint Nick in person: 26

Percentage who would send him an e-mail: 24

Source: Harris Interactive.

Date of the probable first flight of Santa's sleigh, a versatile, all-weather, multipurpose, vertical short-take-off 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 Kringle & Elves Inc., with a home base at the North Pole: 75 candy canes or 150 lollipops

Weight at takeoff: 75,000 gumdrops

Maximum speed: Faster than starlight

Source: NORAD.

Average number of years it takes to grow a Christmas tree of typical height (6 to 7 feet), according to the National Christmas Tree Association: 7

Source: National Christmas Tree Association.

Idle Thought

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)