By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

It’s been tough times for True Love since we last visited his holiday budget.

You know him well from the timeless holiday classic “12 Days of Christmas” tune. What you may not know is how pricy those days can be. On top of that, if he really wants to go all out that would be 12 partridges in 12 pear trees, thank you very much.

Almost whatever you want can be ordered online, but we’re sticking as local as possible to find out just how much credit card debt True Love would rack up if he bought each of the gifts listed in the song.

In sum, to purchase all the gifts listed in the 12 Days of Christmas would cost True Love $17,841.28, or $3,130.90 if each were only purchased once.

A partridge in a pear tree: Chukar partridges can be found at local farms for a pittance throughout the summer months. Getting one now requires a little bit of ingenuity – or a gun.

In 2008 True Love ventured over the mountains with his shotgun, hunting license and upland game bird to get one the old-fashioned way. But his sweetheart, who still has 12 game birds never flitting, still sitting above her chamber door, urged True Love to think outside the box.

If his muse will accept a creative interpretation, Keizer Florist is happy to put together a bird figurine and a Norfolk pine tree for about $50.

To buy 12 partridges in 12 pear trees, that’s $600 flat.

Two turtle doves: What luck! True Love couldn’t find a store in Salem-Keizer that carried them, but there’s a breeder in Sweet Home selling them for just $5 each! At $10 per day for 11 days, that’s darn near a steal at just $110 to buy 22 doves.

Three French hens: Barbara Palermo, who led the fight to legalize urban chickens in Salem (and who pitched in for Keizer’s effort), pointed us to Craigslist. Full-grown hens are selling there for about $10 each. Track down 30 and True Love is now $300 poorer.

Four calling birds: Oh no! Petco in Keizer no longer carries canaries. But fret not True Love – Lancaster Drive’s Petco location does. And they’re a bargain at just $119.99 for yellow, or $139.99 for the red factor variety. Buying them once will cost True Love $479.96; nine days would be $4,319.64.

Five golden rings: Boucher Jewelers has True Love covered – $150 each for your basic 14k gold band. Five of them is $650; over eight days True Love tacks on $5,200 to his credit card.

Six geese a-laying: With the seasonal phenomenon of roosting geese – and, often, geese that were formerly roosting but subsequently die – at Staats Lake, a little ingenuity and planning could get you these not-quite-golden geese for free.

Then again, Oregon Fish and Wildlife officials report this is not exactly legal. Removing wildlife from habitat is a Class C misdemeanor in Oregon. Also, it’s illegal to discharge a firearm within the Keizer city limits.

The meat department at Roth’s Fresh Markets has a better alternative: An 11-pound goose will set you back about $65. They will “a-lay” on your dinner table just fine, we presume. Six of them is $390; doing that seven times costs True Love $2,730.

Seven swans a swimming: Tundra and trumpeter swans are native to Oregon, but like geese you can’t just go snatch them up.

Here mute swans are considered an invasive species, but you can pick up the plastic variety at Toys R Us for just $4.49. Seven of them are $26.94; over six days that’s $161.64.

Eight maids-a-milking: This article is inspired by the PNC Price of Christmas index, which uses the prices as a fun way to show year-to-year trends in the commodities market. You can’t buy a maid to do your milking, but you can hire one. The financial firm classifies maids as unskilled labor likely to be making close to minimum wage.

Luckily for your maids – perhaps not so much for your wallet – Oregon’s current minimum wage of $8.50 an hour beats out the federal requirement of $7.25. With the average working day of eight hours, eight maids at that rate is $544. For five days that’s $2,720.

• Nine ladies dancing: What a bargain! True Love catches a break from the France School of Dance, who will send his muse a free dance troupe. Even with four performances, it’s still free.

• Ten lords-a-leaping: Despite the recent fascination with the British royal family, we still have no actual royalty in the United States. The closest thing locally is the Keizer City Council, who volunteer their time to the city for nothing. Given that there are elections to win, we presume if you ask nicely they might just come leap for free. Of course, a modest campaign contribution never hurts.

• Eleven pipers piping: For just $750, the entire Oregon State Defense Force Band will come by, bagpipes and all. They’ll even bring a drummer or two. And who doesn’t love bagpipe caroling? Do it twice and True Love is set back $1,500.

• Twelve drummers drumming: The drum corps of McNary High School’s band are happy to come play for True Love’s true love. The suggested donation is $200.