2009 PNC Christmas Price Index – Swampy Style

Every year our friends down at PNC Bank take a couple of interns and assign them to update the Christmas Price Index. You all know what this is but just in case you don’t, it is the present day cost of all of the items in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. This year, prices have for the most part gone up again and the total cost of what amounts to pretty much a bunch of useless presents comes in at a grand total $21,465.56 (+1.8%). Now if you were so inclined to order on the internet, you would also incur some extra shipping charges in order to keep your 23 different birds alive so you would be paying $31,434.85. Surprise, surprise – that is actually down 1.6% from a year ago but still just under $10,000 more than obtaining the gifts locally. Obtaining the gifts locally also means that you are being green (at least according to the emails I read from the “scientists” at East Anglia University) and that you are trying to be sustainable. If I could have worked in the word “umami” then I would have hit on just about every buzzword I have come to loathe hearing and could pass go and collect my $200.

But seriously, who has $21,465.56 to spend on Christmas nowadays ? (and if you do, please email me so I can send you my wish list) In this day & age it is better to conserve what little cash we all have so I have some suggestions on how to make “The Twelve Days of Christmas” a little more affordable.

One Partridge in a Pear Tree ($159.99 – $10 for the Partridge & $149.99 for the tree) – Now I don’t know about you but I live out in the country and I have a lot of birds that fly around in my backyard and I have yet to see a partridge amongst them. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a partridge in it’s natural habitat. On “The Hills” you can see Audrina Partridge in her natural habitat (a bar) for free. Since we used Audrina last year, I decided this year to put a beer & an empty bindle of coke up in the White Pear tree in my yard as lure to catch a Danny Partridge. If I add a TV camera, I might actually get them both and have 2 for the price of 1.

Two Turtle Doves ($55.98) – another bird I have never seen in the wild. Do they live anywhere but in a birdcage anyway ? If we wait until February we could probably borrow a few from the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics but that kind of defeats the purpose of it being a Christmas present so I guess we will have to fall back on our old reliable plan and catch us a couple of pigeons from my window sill and coat them in white out. Let’s just hope they don’t try to fly afterward or it will be reminiscent of Les Nessman tossing turkey out of a helicopter on WKRP.

Three French Hens ($45.00) – I am sorry but I am not paying $45 for anything french. I will head over to ShopRite where I can get a much better deal on 3 oven roasted chickens for $5.99 a piece. They will certainly be less pretentious, won’t smoke gauloise cigarettes and will be mighty tasty too.

Four Calling Birds ($599.96) – what the hell is a Calling Bird anyway ? Again, it’s not by my bird feeder and if it had been, something probably would have eaten them by now anyway. So instead of Calling Birds, I suggest stopping by your local Cabela’s and picking up some bird calls – preferably turkey at this time of year so you can get a good meal out of the deal as well.

Five Gold Rings ($499.95) – $100 for a gold ring ? Get real. I can do much better than that by talking to any number of the west african street vendors that crowd the sidewalks of NYC. No guarantee that the rings won’t turn your fingers green but green fingers should help get you in a festive holiday mood.

Six Geese-A-Laying ($150) – the price of geese is dropping like a rock. Kind of like the rocks I throw at the Canadian Geese that desecrate my lawn. You want six geese a laying, I suggest you go to any golf course or park with a pond and you will find plenty of geese that you could layout with a golf club or a stick.

Seven Swans a Swimming ($5,250) I got nothing new for this one this year so here is last year’s entry – “they are nothing more than big nasty birds with an attitude problem but I will admit that they are graceful to watch – Seven swans is overkill though unless of course you hit the discount rack at Dress Barn for the leftovers from the Bjork Collection”.

Eight Maids a Milking ($58) nobody hand milks cows these days unless of course you are Amish. In order to update this one, I bet you could get eight breast feeding mom’s to fill in if you just promise them a private spot away from prying & judgmental eyes.

Nine Ladies Dancing ($5,473.07) At a little over $600 a pop, these dancing ladies are a relative deal compared to the cost of the 9 ladies dancing between the sheets with Tiger Woods but none of us have that kind of money so I suggest heading over to your local strip club where for nine singles, you can get nine ladies to give you a quick dance on your side of the stage.

Ten Lords a Leaping ($4,413.61) Okay, I liked mine from last year so much that I am going to paraphrase it again this year – I am in manhattan and I probably have a much better chance of finding 10 queens a leaping around the Village than I do finding any lords a leaping but I am sure that you could find more than few rejected male dancers at a Broadway Cattle Call audition who would be willing to leap around for a couple of bucks.

Eleven Pipers Piping ($2,284.80) Last year I suggested rounding up the kids from the elementary school holiday concert that were going to assault us with their recorder playing but this year my suggestion is to get eleven cake decorators for free since they do “pipe” the frosting and they are all looking for that big break so they can be the next Ace of Cakes or Cake Boss.

Twelve Drummers Drumming ($2,475.20) It’s too easy. Walk into any preschool or Kindergarten class with 12 drums and you will have 12 kids wailing away like it’s the space jam drum solo at a Grateful Dead concert. You may need to pay for a bottle of Excedrin for the teacher but that is a lot cheaper than $2,475.20 even if you do shop at Duane Reade here in NYC.

So there we are – my suggestions for how you can creatively substitute cheaper alternatives for “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. I know that my suggestions may not appeal to every one’s taste but that is the great thing about this holiday, almost everything can be returned. Unless of course you got it from a street vendor because odds are he will be long gone by the time you come back to look for him.

If you have some other ideas, why not share them with me and my 2 or 3 spam bots that actually “read” this stuff.. You never know what you will find stuffed in your stocking or under your tree on Christmas morning.

And that is the view for now, from Behind the Shades…….come back next time when we discuss something totally unrelated to what you just read because I can never keep a logical train of thought going in my head or on paper….swampy abides….

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