Financial institutions are constantly trying to come up with more accurate ways of telling us exactly how our economy is doing. You’ve got your GNP and your CPI, for instance. And PNC Bank has the 12DC.
That would be its annual calculation of what it would cost to actually purchase all the gifts mentioned in “The 12 Days of Christmas” and the increase or decrease (although it’s almost always an increase) over the previous year.
This year, the total cost would be $27,673–a 1% increase over last year. But I’m always looking for a bargain, so I thought I’d see if I could beat PNC’s prices (in bold, below).
1 Partridge in a pear tree, $208 ($20 for the partridge, $188 for the tree). PNC’s price, however, does not include the cost of a partridge wrangler and someone to train the partridge to stay in the tree, or staples with which to affix the partridge to the tree. I figure it’s easier and cheaper to pay Danny Bonaduce, who played Danny on The Partridge Family and will do just about anything for a buck, $50 to sit on a box of Harry & David’s Royal Riviera® Pears ($19.95). My cost: $69.95.
2 Turtle doves, $125. Turtle doves are expensive because they are migratory and hard to catch. However, if you break this gift down to its component parts, you can get two Dove Chocolate Bars and two Chocolate Gopher Turtles from Savannah Candy Kitchen for a total of $5.86. They may not fly as far as the turtle doves, but they’re far easier to corral and much tastier.
3 French hens, $180. What, they cluck in French? It’s a friggin’ hen. We’re in America here, folks. Three Purdue Oven-Stuffer Roasters from Peapod, delivered to my door, for $34.08.
4 Calling birds (canaries), $600. Why do they have to be canaries? The song isn’t specific. What about parakeets? You can even teach them to talk, so they can actually say: “Hey, Schmuck!” to call you. I had a parakeet growing up, and it was okay until it got brain damaged from continuously flying into the floor-to-ceiling mirror we had in the living room. (I can understand a little bird not understanding the concept of a mirror and not realizing that it wasn’t simply more of the room he was flying toward. But wouldn’t you think there’d be some innate survival instinct that would tell him it was a bad idea to fly directly into that other bird coming right at him?) Anyway, my local Petco is selling parakeets for $19.99. Total: $79.96. (Cage extra.)
5 Gold rings, $750. 18k gold? 24k gold? Gold-plated? Seems like there’s a lot of leeway here. I’m going to choose this lovely 10k Yellow Gold 2mm Traditional Plain Wedding Band from Amazon’s Curated Collection. It’s $59, which is a bargain, considering you’ll probably have a black ring on your finger when you take this one off (2 for the price of one!). My cost for five: $295.
6 Geese-a-laying, $360. I don’t know where PNC does its shopping, but here on the East Coast, if you’re near any body of water, you can’t take six strides without stepping in goose poop. I figure I can grab six of the dirty birds for free, buy a half dozen eggs, and stick one under each goose’s ass (I’d have to goose the geese, I guess). Cost of the eggs: $2.59.
7 Swans a-swimming, $7,000. First of all, what’s with all the birds? What is your true love going to do with all this poultry? Second…a thousand bucks per swan? And where are they going to be a-swimming? Does your true love own a pool? If she’s rich enough to own a pool, let her buy her own damn swans. And if she’s not, is she planning on putting the swans in her bathtub? Swans may look nice, but they are large, nasty creatures. Rubber duckies are much more practical. And true loves love men with a whimsical sense of humor. Seven Classic Yellow Rubber Duckies by Schylling ($5.27ea.): $36.89.
8 Maids a-milking, $58. PNC has based this cost on the $7.25/hr. federal minimum wage. So they’re figuring eight maids each a-working one hour. Is that how long it takes to milk a cow? I have no idea. More critically, what about the cost of the cows? They don’t work for nothing, you know. They have calves to support. So I’m actually doubling PNC’s cost on this one because I think cows deserve the minimum wage, too. $116.
9 Ladies dancing (per performance), $7,553. Specifically, these dancing ladies come from PHILADANCO, the Philadelphia Dance Company. However, a mere 20 miles from Philadelphia is the world-famous Playhouse Lounge Gentleman’s Club, where countless ladies dancing will entertain you for a small cover charge. Let’s say it’s $10, plus a couple of $5 drinks, plus a wad of singles for, you know, tipping. $35.
10 Lords a-leaping (per performance), $5,348. Evidently, PHILADANCO doesn’t have any lords, because these come from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. Why do leaping lords cost so much less than dancing ladies? Anyway, I could take the same tact I used above by mentioning a few clubs in the West Village area of NYC, but, frankly, I’d rather pay $6,367 pounds (about $10,000) to see 10 of these guys leaping around.
11 Pipers piping (per performance), $2,635. I’m going to use PNC’s methodology for the maids a-milking and hire 11 plumbers to work on the pipes at the average hourly rate of $75. It might not be pretty to look at, though. $875.
12 Drummers drumming (per performance), $2,855. Oh, for crying out loud–just buy the DVD of the movie Drumline for $6.99.
Well, there you have it. My total cost: $11,557.32–less than half of what PNC spent (you can’t trust those bankers). But in case you think I cheated a lot to get there, keep in mind that PNC cut a bunch of corners, too. Because if they really wanted to replicate the song, they’d need to multiply each item by the number of days it gets mentioned in the verses afterward. (For instance, you’d also need two turtle doves for the third day, the fourth day, etc.)
Where your true love is going to stash 42 swans is anybody’s guess.
See you soon.