After several consecutive years of robust growth, the cost of Christmas took only a slightly larger bite out of the household budget this year. PNC Bank’s Christmas Price Index registered a 1.8 percent gain in 2009, as the economic downturn helped to restrain prices for many of the items that appear in the classic song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. In addition, if one were to exclude the impact of soaring gold prices, shoppers with strained holiday budgets would have the good fortune of seeing their dollars stretch a little farther this year. Of course, this analysis is all in good fun. Besides, who can really say that they need to buy five gold (and diamond-encrusted) rings—except maybe for maybe Tiger Woods? Stay safe and have a happy holiday season.