Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 18, 2015

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.

Home base: North Pole

Length of the sleigh, built by K. Kringle & Elves Inc.: 75 cc (candy canes)/150 lp (lollipops)

Weight at takeoff: 75,000 gd (gumdrops)

Propulsion: Nine (9) rp (reindeer power)

Max speed: Faster than starlight� Source: NORAD.

Period during which the Christmas tree was introduced in the United States by German settlers, rapidly growing from tabletop size to floor-to-ceiling: 1800s

Year that Christmas trees began to be sold commercially in the United States: 1850

Year Franklin Pierce is credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to the White House: 1853

Estimated year that Sears, Roebuck & Co. began offering the first artificial Christmas trees -- 33 limbs for 50 cents and 55 limbs for $1: 1883

Year the first Christmas tree farm was started when W.V. McGalliard planted 25,000 Norway spruce on his farm in New Jersey: 1901

Source: History.com.

Estimated number of visitors who are drawn to the Christmas tree area around Rockefeller Center every day the tree is lit: 750,000

Number who visit on a non-Christmas tree day: 350,000

Source: Bloomberg.

Average number of minutes that parents across the U.S., U.K., France, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Mexico say they spend each night trying to get their children to bed, according to a study conducted on behalf of Netflix: 17.5

Percentage of parents who report that their children have come up with some creative stall tactics to try and delay bedtime: 61

Source: Ipsos Public Affairs.

Year Barbie debuted at the annual Toy Fair in New York, according to research by Convergex: 1959

Since her birthday on March 9, 1959, estimated number of careers she has had: 150

Rank of the 1992 Totally Hair Barbie, which wore hair down to its feet, according to Mattel's website on the list of the best-selling Barbie of all time: 1

Source: Convergex.

Percentage of people who spend two to six hours preparing their holiday meal, according to a survey by Omaha Steaks: 56

Percentage of people who spend more than six hours: 29

Source: Omaha Steaks.

Percentage of adults who admit they have plugged too many Christmas lights into one outlet, according to a study by insuranceQuotes.com and Allstate Insurance: 50

Percentage who have let a real Christmas tree go without water for more than three days: 29

Source: insuranceQuotes.com.

Percentage of consumers who typically wait until the week of Christmas to do the majority of their holiday shopping, according to RetailMeNot: 30

Percentage of Americans who have bought last-minute gifts during the holidays: 91

Source: RetailMeNot.com.

Percentage of parents of children 9 or under who are likely to make toy purchases, more than those who are parents of tweens (ages 10 to 12) or full-blown teenagers (ages 13 to 17): 92

Ranks of children's books, arts and crafts supplies, dolls and console video games as the most-purchased gifts: 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: The Harris Poll.

Percentage of Americans who plan to holiday tip this year, according to a survey from Care.com: 70

Percentage who prioritize tips for baby sitters, nannies and day care workers: 60

Percentage who tip those who regularly interact with their children, such as coaches, tutors, teachers, etc.: 42

Percentage who tip personal care contacts, such as hairstylists, manicurists, personal trainers, etc.: 47

Source: Care.com.

Idle Thought

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness." -- John Keats

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

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