Monday, December 22, 2008

QQF: Sleek Wreaths and Evergreen Trees

As Christmas decorations go, I have a soft spot in my heart for the white/silver variety, planted long ago when I saw the windows of Saks as a kid. The theme was “Christmas Across the Country.” Each window showed a different family’s holiday: a farm family, Southern family, people in Florida, San Francisco, and New York. The New York window was a duplex penthouse where everything was white—-carpets, couches, drapes, a glass table, Mom in a Jean Harlow white satin robe, and a white Christmas tree with hot pink decorations. It was the coolest, most innately sophisticated thing I had ever seen.

This installed a yearning for what I believed would be the joy of actually living in that white penthouse in that satin robe. That vision was reinforced by incidental set design in the film Holiday Inn, a classic family favorite. The nightclub scenes have silver artificial trees with tinsel where was annually swept away by Fred Astaire in his exquisite tuxedo, and his partner in sequined gown. Again the sophistication was heady and tantalizing.

We were a natural tree family ourselves. The scent of the real tree was a pretty good consolation for the reality of my suburban house as dreams of the penthouse danced in my head.

The penthouse is still in dreamland, though as an adult I face the fake/real decorating dilemma, and then “natural” fake or stylized.

I decided a little of each: a forties nightclub-worthy wreath for the door, with a real tree inside. Fantasy and reality are both best served with each other. Keeps things grounded.

Here is one of Fred’s great dance numbers from Holiday Inn, “Easy to Dance With,” with those big, gorgeous trees.