Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 21, 2014

Date of the probable first flight of Santa's sleigh, a versatile, all-weather, multi-purpose, 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. and homebased at the North Pole: 75 cc (candy canes)/150 lps (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.

Percentage of people who agreed that Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, according to a survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of Theos: 83

Percentage who agreed that Christmas is a time when we should be generous to people less fortunate than ourselves: 62

Source: ComRes.

Current price tag if one were to buy all of the gifts in the holiday classic "The Twelve Days of Christmas," up just $280.04 over last year, according to PNC Wealth Management: $ 27,673.21

Cost of one partridge in a pear tree: $207.68

Cost of two turtle doves: $125.00

Of nine ladies dancing: $7,552.84

Source: PNC Wealth Management.

Percentage of parents who say their kids are growing up too quickly, according to a poll, commissioned by BullGuard and conducted by Harris: 80

Source: BullGuard.

Percentage of Americans who indicate that they'll be "giving back" in some way this holiday season, whether it be in the form of money or goods, volunteering or both, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs survey conducted on behalf of PlanG: 70

Percentage of Americans who say that "they would shop more often at a brand or store that gives back": 72

Percentage who say that "knowing a business gives back in some way impacts their purchase decision": 69

Source: Ipsos Public Affairs.

Estimated percentage of households that still put up and decorate a real tree each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 20

Estimated percentage of U.S. households that now use artificial trees to decorate for the holidays: 50

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Percentage of travelers who say airport security personnel should be on Santa's "naughty" list, according to a survey by HomeAway: 33

Source: HomeAway.

Height of a Christmas tree made made of LEGO and Duplo bricks in Sydney, Australia, (taller than an average two-story house and wider than a car) according to The Daily American: 32 feet

Length of time it took a team of five people to build the tree, including the basketball-sized baubles, a Christmas koala, a pile of gifts and a reindeer: 1,200 hours

Source: The Daily American.

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

Source: Consumer Reports.

Percentage of Americans who anticipate that the holiday season will be a time of joy for themselves and their loved ones: 75

Source: YouGov.

Idle Thought

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos." -- Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, biologist, author

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