Is your true love worth $12,421? Because that’s what it will cost this year if you buy him or her everything in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” according to an informal survey by this newspaper.
PNC Bank has been doing an accounting of the robust gift-giving annually for more than three decades. The financial institution calls it the “Christmas Price Index,” and it tallied $34,558.65 for 2017, about $200 or 0.6 percent more than last year, the bank announced Nov. 15.
Good information, sure. But what if someone who lives here tried to buy everything in Fauquier and Prince William counties, or at least went to local experts for help in making the purchases? A reporter investigated this method and came up with the $12,421 cost.
It’s important to note that the local figures are estimates and were collected in an unscientific way by someone who took as little science and math in college as possible. So the comparison to the PNC numbers isn’t meant to be a serious judgment that one list is more accurate than the other. It’s just a fun look at the “12 Days” tune.
Anyhow, here’s the day-by-day price breakdown:
The song begins with the gift of a “partridge in a pear tree” on the first day, of course. That would run about $60, according to Susannah Grove, who owns Piney Meadow Farm in Somerville: $30 for bird and 30 bucks for tree.
And the 47-year-old should know. Piney Meadow has been in her family since 1883, and she sells pears. Her 13-year-old son, Michael Nye, also studies poultry in 4-H and breeds birds.
Though Grove was able to speak knowledgably about many of the items on the “12 Days” list, she said no one’s ever tried to replicate such a purchase at her business. “Not all at one time, no.”
In terms of comparison, though, 60 bucks was cheaper than PNC’s estimate of $219.95.
Day Two begets two “turtle doves.” That would cost about $130, Grove said, also less expensive than PNC’s estimate of $375.
The fowl theme continues on Day Three. A French hen would cost about $23, Grove said, so three of them would be $69. PNC’s call: $181.50.
Four “calling birds” make up the gift for Day Four, and Grove said that would be about $200. PNC’s estimate: $599.96.
On the fifth day of Christmas, the singer’s true love is to deliver the gold: five rings fashioned from the precious metal. PNC said this present would cost $825, much less than the $3,500 price tag provided by Keri DeCastro, appraiser at Quinn’s Goldsmith jewelry store in Woodbridge.
But maybe DeCastro was pricing more elaborate rings than PNC. Her estimate was for 14-karat gold wedding bands.
It’s back to fowl for Day Six. Six “geese a-laying” would cost about $390, Grove said, a price similar to what PNC came up with: $360.
The seventh day of Christmas calls for seven “swans a-swimming.” Grove said that would be about $3,500, while PNC said it would cost $13,125. Regardless, those former ugly ducklings make good when they turn into swans, huh? But let’s not confuse cultural references.
On the eighth day, the true love switches from poultry to personnel. Eight “maids a-milking” would cost only $58, according to PNC. But Jimmy Messick, co-owner of Messick’s Farm Market in Bealeton, said one way to calculate this cost would be to figure on a seven-hour shift. So if the true love paid eight maids $12 per hour, the total would be $672.
The ninth day also includes human resources, though those in the arts. Nine “ladies dancing” would run $7,552.84, according to PNC. Hiring nine dancers from the Manassas Ballet Theatre wouldn’t be quite that much, however, according to the organization’s executive director, Mark Wolfe. He offered a price of $1,800.
Wolfe, also a Manassas city councilman, seemed pleased by an inquiry regarding performing rather than politics.
“This is the best question I’ve gotten from the press in a long time,” joked the councilman, who was first elected as a Republican and switched to the Democratic Party last year.
Day 10 involves athleticism, too. Ten “lords a-leaping” would cost $5,618.90, PNC said. But getting 10 male gymnasts for a show could be done for $1,600, said Valerie Teets, owner of Apollo Gymnastics in Woodbridge.
The 11th and 12th days are musical, with 11 “pipers piping” and 12 “drummers drumming.” Both of these gift ideas could be fulfilled by Linton Hall School’s Fife & Drum Corps.
The Bristow private school educates students in kindergarten through eighth grade, but Fife & Drum Director Georgia Graves said children younger than kindergarten-age and alums from high school and college continue to perform with the group.
“Our little drum major is in first grade, and she has been marching for three years,” Graves said.
The school group doesn’t charge for performances, but she said the true love could make a donation of about $500 for a “12 Days” show.
PNC’s estimate for these combined gifts? $5,642.50.
- Community News
- Events & Activities
- Opportunities to Make a Difference
Just enter your email below to stay in the know!