Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For November 30, 2014

Percentage of Americans who say they celebrate Christmas, according to a Pew Research Center survey: 90

Percentage of respondents who say they went caroling when they were young: 36

Percentage who do so today: 16

Percentage who say they put up a Christmas tree as children: 92

Percentage who do so today: 79

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Ranks of crowds and long lines, bad traffic, and aggressive or thoughtless driving in store parking lots on the list of the biggest holiday dreads, according to a Consumer Reports poll: 1, 2, 3

When asked what their go-to gift was for someone they didn't know particularly well or someone they hadn't planned to give a gift originally, percentage who said gift cards: 29

Percentage who cited wine/other alcohol: 16

Source: Consumer Reports.

Percentage of CFOs who said the top reason good employees quit is inadequate salary and benefits, according to research from Robert Half: 28

Percentage of employees who cited poor compensation as the primary reason they would leave their jobs: 38

Percentage of CFOs who cited limited opportunities for advancement as the reason employees would leave their job: 22

Percentage of employees who said the same: 20

Source: Robert Half.

Percentage of U.S. adults who set a budget on their holiday gift shopping, according to a poll conducted for Offers.com: 60

Percentage of U.S. adults who make holiday gift lists: 53

Source: Ipsos Public Affairs.

Year of the first written record of a decorated Christmas tree -- in Riga, Latvia -- according to History.com: 1510

Year that trees were sold in the marketplace and brought home and set up undecorated, according to a record from Alsace, France (then German territory), where laws limited the size to "8 shoe lengths" (slightly over 4 feet): 1530

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

Source: History.com's Christmas Section.

Amount of money the average U.S. family will spend on gifts this year, an increase of $66 per household, according to a survey published by Time Inc. and YouGov: $736

Amount this equates to for total U.S. holiday gift spending: $77.5 billion

Source: YouGov.

Percentage of companies that have holiday parties, according to Hornblower Cruises & Events: 86

Percentage of employees who believe that hosting a holiday party can have an improvement on office morale: 67

Source: Hornblower Cruises.

Percentage of American adults nationally who think people should say, "Merry Christmas," according to the Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll: 64

Percentage who believe the appropriate greeting is "Happy Holidays": 31

Source: Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll.

Percentage of Americans who expected to take a trip this holiday season, according to the 2013/2014 AAA year-end forecast: 29.7

Projected number of Americans who will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season: 94.5 million

Source: AAA.

Percentage of cat owners who go the extra mile this time of year to buy their cat the perfect present to put under the tree, according to a survey conducted by Temptations Treats for Cats: 46

Percentage of women who are more likely than men to consider their cat when buying gifts during the holidays: 49

For those cats lucky enough to have made the shopping list, percentage of their owners who will be purchasing toys for their feline friends, despite the fact that owners believe their cats prefer treats in their stockings: 85

Source: Temptations.

Idle Thought

"Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value." -- Arthur Miller, playwright and essayist

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