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For the last couple years, a company called PNC Wealth Management has crunched the numbers behind "The 12 Days of Christmas" to determine the total monetary value of the gift haul laid out in the lyrics of that famous carol, and this year the grand total is $116,273.08 in modern-day money. As absurd as spending that amount of cash on anyone or anything for Christmas might seem, the estimate PNC came up with is actually way too low.

Sure, that might be what it would cost to buy those 12 days' worth of gifts, but the implications and responsibilities of owning them makes the entire venture far more costly than anything that could be explained with a one-time expense report. In fact, for anyone but the richest among us, being saddled with the gifts of the "The 12 Days of Christmas" could very well destroy your life.

And it all starts with a seemingly innocent gift ...

Day 1: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

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Total First Year Cost: $2,480

Simple enough, right? Just a bird in a tree.

Not by a long shot. To get the obvious out of the way immediately, these are both living things that will require maintenance and upkeep. In the case of the partridge, expect to shell out about $560 a year taking care of your new winged responsibility.

As for the tree: if you're getting one for a Christmas gift, it's probably an ornamental pear tree, which, exactly as the name implies, is a tree grown mostly for decorative purposes. In North America, the most common variety of ornamental pear tree is the Callery. It's a beauty to look at when it's in bloom. Unfortunately, that's also when its scent, which has been described as "reminiscent of rotting fish, chlorine, or semen" will likely be at its most pungent.

Also, it should go without saying that the tree isn't going to take care of itself. In fact, the Callery pear tree is more susceptible to storm damage and requires selective pruning during the early stages of its life to keep it healthy. You don't even know what those words mean, so you should probably get yourself a gardener. To be on the safe side, let's give them five hours per week at $8 per hour. That's another $160 added to the monthly bills, for a yearly total of $2,480 after just one day of gifts.

Day 2: Two Turtle Doves

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Total First Year Cost: $6,080

Remember, "The 12 Days of Christmas" is a cumulative deal. Each day, you get all of the gifts from the previous days again, along with something new. That means on Day 2, after finally coming to terms with the fact that you're now responsible for the life and growth of a massive pear tree and a stupid bird, you get an identical set. Even worse, two more birds to go along with them. Turtle doves, which disappointingly look nothing like either of the things they're named after.

Keeping $560 per year as an estimate for what it costs to raise a bird and considering you have a second tree now, we're at $6,080 per year in upkeep costs alone.

On top of that, you have four birds now. Owning one bird is weird enough to the people around you; owning four puts you squarely in contention for the title of "craziest goddamn person we know." That won't cost you anything in a financial sense, but getting excluded from your friend group because you refuse to break up with that weirdo who keeps dropping birds off at your place will definitely take its toll emotionally.

We've all heard this song before, though. You don't break up. You keep going. You always keep going. It's sad, really.

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Day 3: Three French Hens

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Total First Year Cost: $11,360

Is raising a hen more or less expensive than a partridge or a turtle dove? That's the kind of question you don't even sort of have the time to ask yourself right now, because you've got 10 goddamn birds flapping around your one-bedroom apartment and a third pear tree, full of the promise of someday growing to be at least 15 meters high and reeking of rotting fish semen, sitting in a pot on your balcony. This is going to be a problem at some point, but right now all you can think about is the fact that, in just one day, your total yearly tab has almost doubled.

Also, something that we've been avoiding to this point ... where did you meet this psycho who won't stop bringing you birds? Can you maybe ask them to stop?

Day 4: Four Calling Birds

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Total First Year Cost: $18,800

They didn't stop. They never stop. You have 20 birds now. Things will never be the same. You've undoubtedly received noise complaints, and keeping that many animals in a confined space will become a legal nightmare sooner than later. Do you lawyer up and fight or pack up your shit and move? Both options are going to set you back even more money that you definitely don't have. All those new birds, along with another tree, bring your yearly total to $18,800.

Even worse, who can sleep with 20 birds around? Certainly not you. Insomnia will be a very major concern soon. That, in turn, will have an impact on your ability to work, thereby limiting your ability to take care of these stupid birds. For the sake of everyone involved, if this gets any worse, you'll want to think about moving.

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Day 5: Five Golden Rings

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Total First Year Cost: $279,400

OK! Golden rings, this is progress. Let's give the giver enough credit to assume that these rings are of somewhat decent quality, but not enough to assume that giving in bulk means they got them anywhere other than Overstock.com, so let's say these are worth $200 each on the resale market, provided you catch your local pawn shop at its most generous.

That's the good news. The bad news, unfortunately, is everything else. While unloading those rings shaved $1,000 off your first year total, you're still up 10 more birds and another jizz tree, bringing the total cost for the first year to $25,400.

On top of that, there's no more getting around it, you need to move. You're the proud parent of 30 birds and five trees; that's going to call for some acreage. Leland Hayes' Gamebird Publications released a booklet that estimates up to $50,000 for one acre of land when you're trying to raise larger birds. You're not, technically, but surely 30 smaller birds add up to some configuration of larger birds. For fuck's sake, just make it work.

An acre is probably a lot less land than you realize, just about 75 percent of the size of a football field. You should probably buy five. That's bad news for you, to the tune of $250,000.

A financial hit like that means you can't be choosy about living quarters for yourself, so you do what so many homesteaders have done in recent years and pick up a fancy-pants FEMA trailer for right around $4,000. Your new first year total: $279,400. Goddamn.

Day 6: Six Geese-a-Laying

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Total First Year Cost: $289,280

Guess who's eating eggs for the rest of their damn life? You are! You can't afford to do anything else! Trying to turn your geese-a-laying into some kind of money-making operation will require money you don't have to invest in incubators and employees and such. You can definitely afford to eat free food, though, especially when you take into account that you've added another tree and 16 more birds to your arsenal of reasons to hate life. That brings your first year total to $289,280. That's assuming you pawn the five extra gold rings, of course, which you do, immediately.

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Day 7: Seven Swans-a-Swimming

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Total First Year Cost: $325,200

Whatever benefits might have been gained by the arrival of birds who produce things you can eat is immediately negated by this nightmare of a development. "Swans-a-swimming" roughly translates to "shit, I need a lake now."

Good news! Information about what installing a lake on your upstart chlorine tree farm will cost is readily available. First, you'll need another acre of land. Let's assume you catch someone awash in the spirit of Christmas and pick that up for $25,000. The labor to have the land dug up and filled with bird water adds another $10,000 to the tab. This, along with the addition of another tree and 23 more birds, brings your first year total to a bank-account-annihilating $325,200 just one week in.

And yes, that does take into account that you, once again, pawned all five of the gold rings. Immediately.

Day 8: Eight Maids-a-Milking

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Total First Year Cost: $364,000

All right! Eight maids-a-milking! That means they can make milk and, apparently, you're required to make sure they do, given the description. The upside here is that you'll have a "thirst-quenching" beverage to go with your steady diet of nothing but eggs. So that's cool. Unfortunately, you don't just have cows sitting around waiting to be milked. On the low side of things, expect to spend $1,000 for each one. So there's an extra $8,000, which is a bummer, but not nearly as big of a bummer as how human-trafficky this situation just became.

That said, having a little extra help around the place will be nice, but they can't just live outside. Plan on needing a minimum of four new FEMA trailers to house the help. Add to that the fact that you're up 23 more birds and another tree, and your total now sits at a life-destroying $364,000.

Additionally -- we might as well not mince words at this point -- you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that you, for all intents and purposes, are now a slave owner. It's great that you bought them cows to work their magic on; it's less great that you can pay them only in FEMA trailers and eggs for their work.

This will be a rebellion soon, but for now, you're just happy to have a little help, even if it is the most morally bankrupt thing you've ever done in your life.

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Day 9: Nine Ladies Dancing

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Total First Year Cost: $422,800

Correction! This is the most morally bankrupt thing you've ever done. On the bright side, you're sure you really are dealing with your true love, otherwise why would you stand by idly as your relationship takes this unspeakably dark turn? No matter your gender, if your significant other is giving you the gift of nine females to dance for your pleasure, they're up to some unsavory shit.

Still, you turn a blind eye and let it happen, because you're in love and you just want things to work. You briefly consider using this gift as a means to make money, but you almost immediately realize you're not cut out to be a criminal, instead opting to make sure each of them is comfortable by getting them each a FEMA trailer of their own. You also give them the five golden rings instead of selling them, purely out of guilt.

Unfortunately, seeing as how there are only five rings, this leaves four girls without, leading to a night of class warfare that's only worsened when the word of this opulence makes its way back to the four FEMA trailers you purchased earlier, which are now housing four maids each. If you think they're sharing cows after seeing the dancers frolicking in the abundant free space provided by a private trailer, you are sorely mistaken. The cost of new cows and FEMA trailers adds another $44,000 to your tab, and tension within the homestead is at a fever pitch.

This is going to get out of hand quickly. If the captives don't revolt, the Hitchcockian army of 115 birds forming a perimeter around the compound waiting for someone to die surely will. You're now in the hole $422,800, and in the hole 100 percent spiritually. Is there nothing your true love can do to help?

Day 10: Ten Lords-a-Leaping

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Total First Year Cost: $445,600

This is absolutely not the kind of help you had in mind. PNC calculated the price of "lords-a-leaping" as hiring ballet dancers, but these are no dancers. They're here to "help with the girls," they say, which you're fine with considering they've brought another 17 (eight more maids, nine more dancers). They'll be keeping the golden rings for their troubles. You catch a break in that each FEMA trailer can house four people and, with the 13 you've already purchased, you have exactly enough room to accommodate these new arrivals. As uncomfortable as you are with the arrangement, having a team around to quell any uprisings from the maids and dancers is a welcome relief, and agreeing to live four to a trailer was awfully kind of them. Would it have been more kind of them to not bring another helping of birds? Sure, but you'll take whatever help you can get at this point. Also, more cows for the maids, please! Total cost so far: $445,600.

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Day 11: Eleven Pipers Piping

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Total First Year Cost: $508,400

This is getting undeniably weird, and you're starting to wonder if this is really your "true love" sending you gifts or if you've just gotten yourself wrapped up in something way bigger than you realize. That another 10 lords have arrived with the usual cadre of maids and dancers in tow is a bad sign; that they've brought a mysterious band of musicians along makes everything seem infinitely worse. They play an endless drone on the bagpipes as the lords hand out the golden rings, which you've long since given up on ever regaining possession of, to those maids and dancers they deem "chosen" to accept this honor.

You had your suspicions that you were witnessing the birth of a brothel when that first wave of lords showed up, even going so far as to wonder if all the semen-scented trees were meant to mask the smell of ... well, semen. But where are the customers? Where is the money? Why are they still eating all of your goddamn eggs? No, this is no brothel. This is something else. You don't want to believe it, but deep down, you're pretty sure you've been instrumental in starting a cult of some sort.

Speaking of instruments, these thoughts race through your mind as the pipers continue their hypnotic drone. You take in the chaos unfolding around you. That drone. It's inside your head, and you like it. For a moment, the sound washes away all of your cares, except for one ... you've never wanted a golden ring so badly in your life. You will do anything for that ring, even provide housing for 90 people and care for 161 godforsaken birds. What? More cows? Yes, of course more cows. Total cost so far: $508,400.

Day 12: Twelve Drummers Drumming

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Total First Year Cost: $579,200

"What is this sound that intoxicates me so?" You wake up asking yourself that very question on Day 12, soon realizing that the calming drone of the previous day's pipers has been emboldened by the addition of 11 more pipers and a backing of 12 drummers. It sounds like a late-'90s Missy Elliott song. You're captivated by the sound.

More lords arrive with the drummers, and, as always, they brought more ladies. And more birds. There are so many birds. Are the people bringing the birds, or are the birds bringing the people? This thought consumes you for as long as it takes the sweet sounds of that army of bagpipes and drums to once again wash away all your cares. You love that sound. You are that sound. You want that ring.

There are enough to go around -- exactly 40, counting the ones you pawned. Now that you have an army those should be easy to get back. Sure, there are 140 people, but at least 100 of them haven't even sort of been living in a way that pleases the sound. Soon those pipes and drums will become instruments of war, vanquishing all those who refuse to accept its authority. You will not be one of those people. You will do your part. You will contribute. You will care for 12 partridges, 22 doves, 30 hens, 36 calling birds, 42 geese, and 42 swans. You will provide shelter for 40 maids, 36 dancers, 30 lords, 22 pipers, and 12 drummers. You will buy those 40 maids 40 cows. You will accept the offensive odor of 12 pear trees. You will spend $579,200. You will have a golden ring. You fall asleep reassuring yourself that having a golden ring bestowed upon you by the appointed representatives of your true love is your destiny. It always has been. You fall asleep happy. You're home now. Merry Christmas.


For more on terrible wastes of money, check out The 7 Worst Gifts People Seem to Give Every Christmas. And then check out The 30 Most Incredible Gifts You Can Actually Buy.

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