It's December and the gift-buying season keeps me hopping. It takes a lot of effort to make sure I have insulted, ignored or otherwise jilted every person I know. Otherwise, I'd have to go shopping for gifts.
True, this defriending strategy also means I don't receive a lot of gifts, but I figure I still come out ahead. While my friends and neighbors go mad running themselves to exhaustion, I sit in peace and quiet, enjoying my favorite book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Well, the first half of the book, anyway.
But if you're still considering the more traditional gift-season hustle and bustle, allow me to present two more arguments in my favor: the annual Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts Catalog, and the inflation index as measured by the cost of buying all the stuff in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
When I was a kid, I pored over the toy catalogs for hours, carefully drawing circles around everything I wanted so that neither Santa nor my parents could possibly make a mistake.
But every year, instead of the GI Joe Adventure Team Shark Surprise kit or the Super Spy Rocket Launcher, I'd get a package of socks, three shirts, and a toy that couldn't knock my brother out even if I had a rocket launcher.
The Neiman Marcus Fantasty Gifts are the adult version of those catalogs. Every year, they feature such goodies as a backyard water park (2006, $100,000), Napoleon Bonaparte's glasses (1990, $90,000), a private concert with Elton John (2005, $1.5 million), a solid milk chocolate Monopoly game (1978, $600), and Bombardier Learjets (2003, up to $12,743,000). This year, choices include a 201-inch outdoor TV screen with 7.1-digital surround for a base price $1.5 million, with available upgrades to nudge that up to to a measly $2.64 million.
Every year, I carefully circle the gifts I want. And then, because I finally figured out what Santa and my parents were trying to tell me all those years (Hint: It has something to do with budgets), I go out and buy myself a package of socks and three shirts.
But beware. Even the socks might set you back a tad more this year than last, according to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" Price Index.
The list that PNC Wealth Management updates annually says this year, your wallet must squeeze out $27,393 for one set of everything in each verse of the song, about 7.7 percent more than last year. Of course, the song repeats verses for each additional day, and that kicks the price up to $114,651 for all 364 items - a 6.9 percent increase.
The problem is not so much the eight maids-a-milking. They still run a total of just $58 because the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour for each, just like last year.
But those nine ladies dancing twirled up 20 percent to $7,553, and those 10 lords-a-leaping jumped 10 percent to $5,243. I blame "Dancing With the Stars."
So I'm wondering, could I hire myself out as a leaping lord? How much can I get for the milk, pears and goose eggs? Enough to finally score the GI Joe Adventure Team Shark Surprise kit?
Or some new socks. That's the problem with insulting everybody so that you don't have to buy gifts. When you don't get any, either, along about March, Grinches have to go buy their own socks.
---- Get on Cole's gift exchange list at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook. Cole says instead of socks, his novel "Bash and the Pirate Pig" would make a great gift.