The price of Christmas and a real reason for the season

There’s no shortage, it seems, of indicators and indexes that track various aspects of the economy — from unemployment rates to tax collections and consumer confidence to real estate sales. Just in time for the holidays, here’s the latest results of yet another measure that tracks labor costs and commodity prices, not to mention the price of birds.

PNC Financial Group compiles an annual Christmas Price Index based on what it would cost to purchase everything from the carol “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The total for 2016 is $34,363. That’s an increase of  $232 or about seven-tenths of a percent over 2015.

The price of many of the gifts mentioned in the lyrics of the carol hasn’t changed much over the past year — a reflection, one would assume, of a low inflationary environment. In fact, the cost of the ubiquitous partridge and pear tree decreased $5 to a total of $210.

An exception was the price of two turtle doves, which jumped a total of  $85 to $375, a nearly 30 percent increase attributed to lack of availability. Labor costs apparently have increased a bit as well in the slightly higher price for performances of 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming. The priciest item on the last by far is seven swans-a-swimming, which came to a total of $13,125.

For those keeping track, here’s the latest cost of the gifts mentioned in “The 12 Days of Christmas:”

  • Partridge — $20, down $5.
  • Pear tree — $190, unchanged.
  • Two turtle doves — $375, up $85.
  • Three French hens — $182, unchanged.
  • Four calling birds (canaries) — $600, unchanged.
  • Five gold rings — $750, unchanged.
  • Six geese a-laying — $360, unchanged.
  • Seven swans a-swimming — $13,125, unchanged.
  • Eight maids-a-milking — $58.
  • Nine ladies dancing (per performance) — $7,553, unchanged.
  • 10 lords a-leaping (per performance) — $5,509, unchanged.
  • 11 pipers piping (per performance) — $2,708, up $73.
  • 12 drummers drumming (per performance) — $2,934, up $79.

The allure of gifts notwithstanding, one of the real reasons for the holiday season is the opportunity to spend time with family and friends and express our gratitude for their roles in our lives.

To that end, we express our gratitude to the extended family that’s made publication of the Business Times possible for another year. Thank you to the advertisers who help the bills and contributing columnists who so willingly share their time and expertise in dispensing sound advice. Thanks to the webmaster who maintains the website and designer who builds ads and assembles sections. Thanks most of all, though, to the readers who continue to subscribe to the paper, pick it up on newstands and log on to the website. We know you have a plethora of choices in obtaining your business news. Thank you for choosing the Business Times.

In the words of Clement C. Moore, happy Christmas to all. In the words of Charles Dickens, God bless us, everyone.