Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Gifts

The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas supposedly grew out of the biblical story of the Three Wise Men who came from "the East" to bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus.

Nowadays, the tradition has become something a bit more crazy, with the gift shopping frenzy beginning shortly after the Fourth of July, nearing its peak on Black Friday*, and culminating in a last-minute rush on Christmas Eve. The resulting piles of gifts will be greatly admired on Christmas morning, and largely forgotten by Epiphany. And, as parents well know, small children are likely to enjoy the empty boxes more than the gifts themselves.

Each year at this time, you see the news stories that track the cost of the gifts given by the singer's true love in the classic song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." You know the list:

A partridge in a pear tree;
Two turtle doves;
Three French hens;
Four calling birds;
Five golden rings;
Six geese a-laying;
Seven swans a-swimming;
Eight maids a-milking;
Nine ladies dancing;
Ten lords a-leaping;
Eleven pipers piping; and,
Twelve drummers drumming.

For 2013, the cost of those gifts has been calculated as $27,393 - a big jump of 7.7% from the 2012 rate. If one were to go whole-hog and buy the entire list of gifts with all the repetitions in the song (a total of 364 gifts), the bottom line jumps to a staggering $114,651. You can read the complete analysis here.

If the traditional gifts are not your cup of tea**, you can check out some of the offerings identified by Simon Doonan in his article on Slate.com about absurdly expensive gifts for the super-rich. You could, for instance, purchase a yellow-diamond coronet from Tiffany's ... a steal at $335,000***.

If jewelry isn't your thing or you don't have quite that much cash on hand, and your true love is an animal lover, why not give a pregnant giraffe**** - a steal at only $80,000.

How about a real trip - a reservation for a flight into space on Virgin Galactic for just $250,000?

Finally, if you have more money than good taste and want to give something that will send a real message, consider bidding on this hideous antique Greek figure - "A Marble Figure of a Young Satyr Wearing a Theater Mask of Silenus, Roman Imperial, Circa 1st Century AD, with Restorations by Alessandro Algardi, 1628," available from Sotheby's for an estimated $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 ...

Just a few suggestions for gifts for that hard-to-please recipient. My own wish list is much more modest, and I will be happy to send you a copy if you are going to insist on giving me a gift this holiday season.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


* Black Friday is, of course, the day after Thanksgiving, so named because it is the day when retailers hope to bring their balance sheets into the black. This year, many stores were actually open on Thanksgiving Day itself, which I have seen referred to as "Gray Thursday." Oy.

** And tea is extraordinarily expensive if you buy the more exotic mixtures at a place like Teavana.

*** In case you're keeping track, that would buy the entire twelve days of Christmas list almost three times.

**** Available because the zoo is closing. You have to deal with PETA yourself.


allenwoodhaven said...

What is the cost of thosr three wise men's gifts? I haven't seen that annual list yet.

Mike said...

Don't be surprised if a pregnant giraffe shows up at your house Christmas morning.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

personally I'd be happy with a barnes and noble gift card!