It's not likely anybody seriously would attempt to purchase even one lord a-leaping for their true love at Christmas, let alone ten of them. And in this age of pneumatic and electronic dairy equipment, is it even possible to find any maids a-milking?
Still, it is entertaining to look at how much it would cost to procure all of the items in the popular carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
The bill this year is $27,393 if one were to buy one set of each different gift on the list. That represents a 7.7-percent hike from 2012, according to the PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index. For the extravagant elf who would want to get all 364 items repeated in the song, the invoice would read $114,651. The 6.9-percent increase from last year reveals there is an advantage to purchasing in bulk.
But don't think for a moment going online is the cheapest with so many purchases exempt from sales tax. The shipping and handling surcharges help ring up a $173,000 grand total.
Even with some of the items' price tags the same or even lower than last year, the overall increase is outpacing U.S. inflation by a hefty margin.
"We were surprised to see such a large increase from a year ago, given the overall benign inflation rate in the U.S.," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC, which has calculated the prices since 1984.
Ladies dancing and the aforementioned lords a-leaping both experienced significant wage hikes. Those hard-to-find maids a-milking? The minimum wages they command make them the least expensive item on the "Twelve Days" list. A partridge only will set you back $15, but the swans at $1,000 each make them the priciest of all.
We would recommend simply singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" over and over this holiday season. It is obnoxious, or will become so quickly. But the post-holiday blues will be a whole lot sweeter without all of that frivolous expense.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry