Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 25, 2011

Ranks of "getting caught up in the holiday spirit," "love" and "simply not thinking about how much is being spent" on the list of primary reasons for exceeding a personal holiday spending limit, according to a TD Bank poll: 1, 2, 3

Percentage of shoppers who said they used credit cards to pay for gifts this year: 38

Percentage who will use debit cards: 31

Source: TD Bank.

Percentage of people who say relatives overstay their welcome after a day or less, with some saying their family members wear out their welcome as soon as they arrive, according to a special edition of the HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report: 22

Percentage who say relatives overstay their welcome after just a few days: 29

Percentage who say their relatives never wear out their welcome: 37

Source: HomeAway.

Percentage of people who selected "dog or other pet" as the most normal member of their family, according to a poll conducted by the Social Beat Research Group: 76

Percentage who picked "me" -- a distant second place, and likely the response of someone without pets: 12

Source: TMarkTees.com.

Day that the U.S. Postal Service says is traditionally the heaviest mailing day of the year, about a 40 percent rise from the normal daily volume, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: Dec. 14

While the holiday season easily produces the heaviest volume, estimated number of pieces of mail the Postal Sevice delivers annually: 170.5 billion

Number of employees it takes to handle this astounding volume: 672,000

Number of postal facilities around the country: 27,000

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Percentage of American children who reach the age of 17 with both their biological parents married (since before or around the time of their birth), according to Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute in its second annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection: 45.8

Source: Family Research Council.

Percentage of women who say the economy has helped them focus on what's important during the holidays, according to an American Red Cross poll: 66

Percentage of men who say the same: 49

Percentage of women who say they feel badly they can't give more to charity this year, compared to 51 percent of men: 71

Source: American Red Cross.

Ranks of spend more time with family and friends, fitness, tame the bulge, quit smoking, enjoy life more, quit drinking, get out of debt, learn something new, help others, get organized on the top 10 list of New Year's resolutions, according to Albrecht Powell, About.com Guide: 1 to 10

Source: About.com.

Ranks of Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava on the list of the most popular girls names of 2011, according to BabyCenter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Ranks of Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam and Jacob on the list of the most popular boys names of 2011: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Source: BabyCenter.

Number of paid vacation days the average American employee has left unused at the end of each year, according to results of the American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive: 6.2

During the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2010, the average percentage drop in hotel prices on Hotwire.com vs. the peak summer months: 10

When compared to the peak season, percentage drop in airfares during the first weeks of December 2010: 9

When compared to the peak season, percentage drop in car rental prices during the first weeks of December 2010: 23

Source: Hotwire.com.

Year that Christmas Seals first appeared in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 1907

Amount of money expected to be raised at the time by selling special stamps designed by Emily Bissell to put on Christmas mailings, with the profits helping in the fight against tuberculosis, then the nation's No. 1 killer: $300

Estimated amount actually raised: $3,000

Amount raised the following year, 1908: $135,000

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Idle Thought

"The path of least resistance makes all rivers, and some men, crooked." -- Napoleon Hill

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