12.03.2010

NOT BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE


I've been reading all the recent articles about fake Christmas trees with fascination. I've always found the idea questionable; isn't it always better to go with the genuine article? But then again, I can appreciate the value of not cutting down a living tree--even though most of us get our trees from sustainably cultivated farms. Still, I love the sharp fragrance of real trees, and admire the way you can read the history of the tree's life in the uneven branches, which are stunted, or stretched, depending on where in the field they were growing, and how and when the sun hit.

My holiday decoration has generally been simple; when I had my house in the suburbs, I liked having a candle burning in every window. I have a childlike appreciation for lights in the dark night. But I did not like the anxiety that came with fire. The hard plastic alternatives didn't look good at all up close. I recently found a handsome alternative: real wax pillars that are battery operated. You can find these online. I got mine, which are about eight inches tall, for about three dollars, at Ocean State Job Lot, one of my favorite bargain hunting grounds. I love lighting the candles at five in the evening--the house doesn't feel quite so dark through the long evenings this time of the year.

Fake candles seem a bit surreal, I know. But they look so good that I may leave them up year round. They're going to be useful outside, during blustery summer picnics, when candles are easily snuffed out, even when they are in hurricane lamps. Now, every time I switch on my candles, I smile at how odd it is to be doing so. And, as well, I smile at my "authenticity snobbishness", which, as is often the case with superior attitudes, is misplaced. Sometimes it is best to avoid burning down the house.

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