Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 18, 2011

Rank of innocent and friendly gift exchanges like "Yankee Swap" and "Secret Santa" on the list of the most likely areas for regifting, according to a study for national off-price home fashions retailer HomeGoods: 1

Whether guilty or not, percentage of suspected regifts that come from co-workers: 46

Percentage that come from friends: 21

Source: HomeGoods.

Though 67 percent of Americans didn't think the economic downturn would last this long, percentage of respondents who still want to give to charities and expect to donate more or about the same this holiday season as they did last year, according to an American Red Cross poll: 70

Percentage of Americans who believe that because of the economy, it's important to give something to charity (an increase of 10 percentage points over last year): 68

Source: American Red Cross.

Percentage of parents who have procrastinated with their holiday to-do lists, who say that they have had to run errands in the middle of the night to get ready for Christmas morning: 32

Percentage of parents who report that they have not been able to buy the toy their child(ren) wanted for the holidays because they procrastinated in getting their holiday shopping done: 23

Percentage of parents who say that it is important to them to create a memorable Christmas for their children: 89

Source: Ipsos Public Affairs.

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

Length of time his Christmas Eve trip may seem to us to take, but to Santa it may last days, weeks or even months in time because he functions within a different time-space continuum than the rest of us do: 24 hours

Estimated age of Santa Claus: 16,000 years

Source: NORAD.

Year that the first tree debuted at Rockefeller Center -- standing 20 feet tall and erected by construction workers eager to receive a day's pay in the depths of the Depression, according to Time Magazine: 1931

Height of the 2011 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree: 74 feet

Weight: 10 tons

Age of the Norway spruce tree: 75 years

Source: Time Magazine.

Compared to last year, percentage increase in the price index in the whimsical economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management based on the prices of gifts in the holiday classic "The Twelve Days of Christmas": 3.5

According to the 27th annual survey, current price tag for these gifts: $24,263.18

Cost if you want to buy the whole shebang from a single partridge to twelve drummers drumming for each verse (that's 364 separate pieces of Christmas joy): $101,119.84

Source: PNC Wealth Management.

Average amount of time women spend cleaning their homes each week, according to a national survey conducted by StrategyOne and commissioned by Georgia-Pacific: 116 minutes

Amount of cleaning time that at-home Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers can add to that, including time spent before and after parties: 4 hours (240 minutes)

Whether messes are caused by an overflow of sweet potato casserole or puddles of spilled gravy, ranks of Christmas (57.3 percent), Thanksgiving (32.5 percent) and New Year's (3.4 percent) on the list of the messiest holidays: 1, 2, 3

Source: StrategyOne.

Value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: $983 million

Value of U.S. imports of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States from China during the same period: $79.7 million

Value of U.S. toy imports -- including stuffed toys (including dolls), puzzles and electric trains -- from China between January and September 2011: $2.5 billion

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Percentage of Americans who plan to travel this holiday season, according to the results of the annual TripAdvisor December holiday travel survey: 43

Percentage of travelers who think travelers, in general, behave with worse manners toward one another than usual during the "season of good will": 23

Despite the current economic climate, percentage of respondents who say the economy has not impacted their December holiday travel plans: 76

Source: TripAdvisor.

Year from which the first written record comes of a decorated Christmas tree in Riga, Latvia, according to History.com's Christmas section: 1510

Year from which a record from Alsace, France, states that trees were sold in the marketplace and brought home and set up undecorated -- laws limiting the size to "8 shoe lengths" (slightly more than 4 feet): 1530

Period it became common in Germany to decorate Christmas trees with apples: 1600s

Source: History.com.

Idle Thought

"Every man is a damned fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit." -- Elbert Hubbard, author, editor and printer (1856-1915)

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