The discussion about real (trees, candles) versus fake (trees, candles) seems to have stirred up an existential dilemma among some of our more sensitive readers. One of our wags wrote:
"Life is so perplexing. We have to ask ourselves each day what is real and what is not - what's important and what's not. Is a real tree fake if it brings sadness because of memory, is a fake tree real if it brings joy? Is it wrong to bring a cut live tree into the home even if it is from a sustainably cultivated farm? Is it wrong to bring an artifical tree into the home even knowing a real tree didn't sacrifice its life for my own selfish joy? It's all too confusing. What's right? What's wrong? I just don't know what to do!!! I may have to skip Christmas this year. I'm so confused."
May I offer some help? As in many similar circumstances, simply ask yourself: What would Lacey Davenport do? Of course, I happen to be ensorcelled by Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury collection these days; I've just gotten to the part (I'm telling you, it's like reading Trollope's The Way We Live Now) where Ms. Davenport has entered Heaven, which I am sure she is redecorating as we speak.
I hear Lacey Davenport saying, Real versus Fake? If you have to ask, dear....
A tad Delphic. But that's Lacey. Channelling my inner Davenport, here's what I'm going with:
Fake--but great looking--candles next to wooden window frames, or on tree branches, or near anything else highly combustible. (I'll move those candles in the picture before I light them, not to worry.)
Real--simple beeswax--candles at the table, on the mantle.
Real tree branches (the cuttings from the bottoms of the trunks) in every room, massed in real vessels full of real water.
I'm going with a real tree, if Theo agrees to stick around for a few days to ogle it with me. I like the color, and the fragrance, and the irregularity of the structure. There's nothing I like better than sitting quietly, right before bedtime, gazing into the depths of real branches covered by real plastic-encased LED twinkling lights. (Made in China, no doubt. That should cheer you up, William.)
But if I were going with a fake tree, I would buy one of those sparkling platinum jobs. They're so glam! So cheery, like an adorable old aunt who can't get her lipstick and eyeliner on quite the right target, but she aims to please, and that's the only thing that matters. (David Terry, I'm sure you know the type. And her appeal. Help me out here.)
When it comes to trees, and a few other things I can think of (but not battery-operated candles), fake should never try to look real.
Perhaps the problem is semantic. The plastic is, after all, real, not fake. Must we ask, What is reality? But let's not get our knickers in a twist. Just remember: by the time real looks fake, you're in trouble....And that goes for our faces as much as our trunks. A gentle suggestion: Go easy on the pre-Holiday primping, my dear friends.
Good luck, everyone. I recommend a bit of Christmas music in the background at all times. How about, in honor of dead first marriages and eternal competitive spirituality, Carly Simon's CD, and James Taylor's recording of holiday songs?