How much would it cost today to get your loved one the gifts from the “The Twelve Days of Christmas”?

PNC Financial Services Group

For 36 years, we’ve calculated the prices of the twelve gifts from the classic carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The result is the PNC Christmas Price IndexR, a unique and whimsical holiday tradition that makes learning about the economy fun.


The Geese and the Gold would have stretched True Love’s budget if it weren’t for those two darling doves who dropped in price. This year a modest increase of 0.2% makes the twelve gifts a feather’s weight higher than 2018, but a 95% increase from the first Christmas Price Index in 1984.



Today’s global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the “Twelve Days of Christmas”

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost- effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call-waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors.
Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded.
It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be more productive.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times.
Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility.
Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congresspersons. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed congresspersons this year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney’s association seeking expansion to include the legal profession (“thirteen lawyers-a-suing”), action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the most efficient number.

Christmas Vacation From Mom – A Guilt Trip

Any day now, I’ll get my mother-in-law’s annual letter to us, which will go something like this:

Dear Darling Son and That Person You Married,

Merry Christmas to you, and please don’t worry. I’m just fine considering I can’t breathe or eat. The important thing is that you have a nice holiday, thousands of miles away from your ailing mother. I’ve sent along my last ten dollars in this card, which I hope you’ll spend on my grandchildren. God knows their mother never buys them anything nice. They look so thin in their pictures, poor babies.

Thank you so much for the Christmas flowers, dear boy. I put them in the freezer so they’ll stay fresh for my grave. Which reminds me — we buried Grandma last week. I know she died years ago, but I got to yearning for a good funeral so Aunt Viola and I dug her up and had the services all over again. I would have invited you, but I know that woman you live with would have never let you come. I bet she’s never even watched that videotape of my hemorrhoid surgery, has she?

Well son, it’s time for me to crawl off to bed now. I lost my cane beating off muggers last week, but don’t you worry about me. I’m also getting used to the cold since they turned my heat off and am grateful because the frost on my bed numbs the constant pain. Now don’t you even think about sending any more money, because I know you need it for those expensive family vacations you take every year. Give my love to my darling grandbabies and my regards to whatever-her-name-is–the one with the black roots who stole you screaming from my bosom.

Merry Christmas.


There has been only one Christmas … the rest are anniversaries.

You stop believing in Santa Claus when you start getting clothes for Christmas.

I know. I know. People say, “It’s the thought that counts, not the gift,” but couldn’t people think a bit bigger?!

Never Knock Your Sisters

Three sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, live in a house together.

One night the 96-year-old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells to the other sisters, “Was I getting in or out of the bath?”

The 94-year-old yells back, “I don’t know. I’ll come up and see.” She starts up the stairs and pauses “Was I going up the stairs or down?”

The 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to her sisters, she shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful, knock on wood…” She then yells, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.”

Q: How do you know when Santa’s around?

A: You can always sense his presents.

Q: What do you call a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa?

A: A rebel without a Claus.

Q: Why do mummies like Christmas so much?

A: They’re into all the wrapping.

Q: How do you help someone who’s lost their Christmas spirit?

A: Nurse them back to elf.

Q: What’s Santa Claus’s favorite track & field event?

A: North Pole-vaulting!

Q: What do you call a bankrupt Santa?

A: Saint Nickel-less.

Q: What do you call a snowman with a six pack?

A: An abdominal snowman.

Q: What does the Gingerbread Man use to make his bed?

A: Cookie sheets!

What do you call a blind reindeer?   I have no eye deer.

Entering  Heaven

Christmas Carols

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.

    “In honor of this holy season,” Saint Peter said, “You must each possess something that symbolizes  Christmas to get into heaven.”

    The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. “It represents a candle,” he said. “You may pass through the pearly gates,” Saint Peter said.

    The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, “They’re bells.” Saint Peter said, “You may pass through the pearly gates.”

    The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women’s glasses.

    St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, “And just what do those symbolize?”

    The man replied, “They’re Carol’s.”

Southern Wise Guys

In a small Southern town there was a “Nativity Scene” that showed   great skill and talent had gone into creating it. One small feature  bothered me. The three wise men were wearing firemen’s helmets.  Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, I left.

At a “Quick Stop” on the edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets. She exploded into a rage, yelling at me, “You damn Yankees never do read the Bible!” I assured her that I did, but simply couldn’t recall anything about firemen in the Bible. She jerked her Bible from behind the counter and ruffled through some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage. Sticking it in my face she said “See, it says right here,  ‘The three wise man came from afar.'”

I tried to catch fog yesterday, Mist.

I took the shell off my racing snail, thinking it would make him run faster. If anything, it made him more sluggish.

My Sister’s Gift

I was ten the summer my dad helped me buy my first ten-speed bicycle from Father Allen. I put up $60 of my grass cutting and snow shoveling money, and my dad put up the other half. I would pay him back in installments over the next six months. Although it was the kind of bike you’d expect a priest to have (dull silver, slightly worn, no baseball cards in the spokes), it was my ticket to the adult world.

I spent that summer and autumn riding as if to put Greg LeMond to shame. My sister Liz, a prisoner of her five-speed and banana seat, never had a chance to keep up. We’d always been stuck with hand-me-downs from our older brothers and sisters, a few of whom had notoriously bad taste in bikes. Now, however, I was able to ride to every corner of town, sometimes even as far as the beach. In those heady days before one acquires a driver’s license, a good bike is a magic carpet.

Just before the Christmas deadline to pay my dad back, we were hit with several snowstorms. This allowed me to shovel enough driveways to pay off my debt. I was now officially a bike owner; it was a feeling unlike any other.

It’s important to note that while my mom and dad were fantastic parents, they couldn’t be trusted with the awesome responsibility of buying appropriate Christmas presents. They were too quick to pass off gloves, sneakers, and shirts as “presents.” And while we might say a prayer over the Baby Jesus in the manger on our way to church, He seemed too busy at this time of year to leave presents under the tree. We outsourced our requests for the really good presents to Santa.

For her family of seven kids, my mom developed a system in which she decorated the outside of seven large boxes with different types of wallpaper. We each had our own box that contained six or so presents, and we’d close our eyes and reach in to grab one when it was our turn. This cut down on hours of wrapping and satisfied my dad’s Naval sense of order.

The downside was we opened one present at a time so everyone could “appreciate” each other’s gifts. Neither Liz nor I “appreciated” this system because we went last. After the obligatory “oohs” and “aahs,” each of us held up our present for family review, a process that averaged about five minutes or so. This meant Liz and I had to wait about forty-five minutes between each present, so patience was in short supply—when one of us pulled out a belt or package of underwear, we seethed the entire time.

My dad, a master showman, liked to keep a few of Santa’s better presents for the end. On that fateful Christmas morning, he gave me a used portable record player. I was ecstatic—I was finally untethered from the “family stereo” that all of us fought over.

Alas, my elation was short-lived after my dad called my sister to the kitchen. “We have one more gift for you,” he said as he opened the door that led to the garage. There, on the steps, stood a brand new ten-speed Schwinn. I didn’t hear her screams of joy—all I could hear was the sputtering engine of the lawnmower, the endless scraping of the metal snow shovel on concrete. I’d endured far too many hours of indentured servitude for my used bike; that Santa could give Liz this sparkling machine less than a week later was a sign that he was losing his touch. Could Mrs. Claus be putting something in his food?

I slumped onto the floor. My ten-speed chariot had turned into a pumpkin in the time it took my sister to hop on the gleaming leather seat.

“Let’s go for a ride, Rob!” she sang, my dad holding the bike upright as she put her feet on the pedals.

“Too snowy to ride,” I muttered, pushing the record player farther away from me. The symbolism seemed lost on my dad.

I seethed for the rest of the day, then the rest of the week. My dad was not someone to whom we complained about presents (not if we ever wanted to see another, anyway). Santa always seemed to lose interest after Christmas, rarely accepting returns or trade-ins. That left the Baby Jesus, but He wasn’t answering my prayers—I could tell because Liz’s bike had yet to crumble into a pile of rust flakes.

After a few weeks of watching me pout, my dad finally pulled me aside. “Everything okay?”

“It’s not fair,” I whined. “I worked so hard for my bike, and it’s not even new. Then Liz gets a brand new bike as soon as I make the final payment. She didn’t have to do anything for it.”

My dad smiled. “She didn’t have to do anything for it because it’s not really for her,” he said, and then left the room.

What did that mean? I didn’t want her bike—it had the girly bar that sloped down to the ground and a flowery white basket on the handlebars. I could turn it in for a new set of action figures, I figured, but she’d been on it every day since Christmas—no way they’d let me take it back now. I eventually got over it, chalking it up to elf error (the naughty and nice list can be cumbersome).

By spring Liz and I were riding all over town together now that she could keep up. Sure, I’d lose her on the steep slopes, but I always let her catch up when we went downhill. Initially, the youngest children in a large family form a bond out of necessity—older siblings can be taxing, and there are only so many locked doors one can hide behind. Sometimes, you need someone else in the foxhole with you.

As we grew, Liz and I became true friends. We biked down to swim at the local pool, then put in seven miles to take the free town tennis lessons together. We planned secret parties when my parents went on trips and played a game of “Who can leave less gas in the tank” when we finally got our drivers’ licenses. I relied on her to put names to faces when we were at parties, and she treated my best friends as her personal dating service. We ended up at the same college, and even graduated the same year.

Still, I wasn’t smart enough to figure out what my dad meant until years later. That brand new bike was not a gift for Liz—it was a gift for me. He’d given me the gift of my sister’s company, the ability to stay together rather than drift apart in the face of my ability to travel. He gave me my best friend.


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