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Catherine Zeta-Jones & Christmas Trees

tree Manhattan doesn't have a shortage of celebrities. No, they are everywhere. At restaurants. Strolling the streets. In the park. Celebrity-spotting certainly isn't a daily occurrence for me, but it happens. And pretty frequently too. Growing up, Christopher Reeve was a next door neighbor. I have shared a communal dressing room with Britney Spears. I have held the Starbucks door so Mira Sorvino could exit with her double stroller. Jennifer Garner used to wait tables at a favorite local restaurant. I recently had an impromptu burger with Cyndi Lauper.

Okay, enough name-dropping. Yuck. You get the picture.

Wait. I have one more name to drop. Catherine Zeta-Jones. I saw her two weeks ago. Here's the setup. Husband and I brought the girls to a local playground. At one point, I decided that it was time for a little caffeine fix, so I hoisted Baby to my hip and we made a quick jaunt to Starbucks. We bounced down the sidewalk, twirling at spots, both of us giggling. As we approached our destination, I saw something and literally stopped in my tracks. A creature of exponential, almost inhuman, beauty. She was tall, impossibly thin but not sick-looking, dressed all in black. Her hair cascaded around a porcelain face hidden behind vast movie star shades. At first, I didn't know who it was, but in a few moments it was clear as that November day. It was Catherine.

I studied her. Countless people studied her. And then I studied myself. Ripped jeans, battered Uggs, unwashed hair. I felt like a different species. And then I had a thought, "Whatever, she looks so fake." Out of patent insecurity, I started telling myself stories about plastic surgery and personal trainers. But then, oddly, I stopped. I looked at her again. This time from the back as she walked into the flea market. This time, I focused on a different aspect. Her hand. It was holding another hand. That of her son. A handsome little boy. Suddenly, this creature, this beautiful creature, wasn't so foreign. She was a mother. Just like I was. Out on a Sunday with her kid. Rumor has it she lives in our neighborhood.

Fine. Some of you are probably wondering about the latter half of my title, but hold your reindeer, I'm getting there. My encounter with this celebrity mom got me thinking about the dichotomy of real and fake, of authenticity and artificiality. What is real? What is fake? What is authentic? What is artificial? Are we more real than celebrities because we don't have personal chefs and fake breasts and personal umbrella holders? I'm not so sure. Don't celebrities have many real problems in life and love (hi, Tiger) that are just lived out in more unfortunate and public ways?

Aren't we all mixtures of real and fake?

Which (finally) brings me to trees. After I publish this oddball post, I will head out with Husband and the girls to pick our Christmas tree. We are all very excited. We will probably pick a ten-footer or so, a Frasier Fir. (Wow, just realized that I like my trees the way I like my men - tall, muscular, nice-smelling.) We will pick (and pay an exorbitant amount for) a real tree. I'm not going to lie. I've always had something against the artificial, commodified, perfect-looking celebrity tree. But now I'm not sure why. Is it really that real, that organic, to prop a dying tree in the middle of a living room and blanket it in electricity and ornaments? Can't one have an authentic Christmas experience around a faux tree?

The lines are blurring. And I think this is good, but it is also confusing. What is real? What is fake? What is artificial? What is authentic?

I blog here daily in an attempt to spew some authenticity into this fake-it-to-make-it world of ours. But before I spew, I edit and polish and rearrange and attach a cute little photo. Is that really being authentic? Can authenticity itself be artificial?

I know. I am confused too. I've gone from celebrity sightings to a semantic quagmire. Just your typical Saturday morning chez Aidan's mind.

Now it's time to publish these artificially authentic words and go buy that "real" tree.

(Maybe we will see Catherine and her family buying their tree. You never know.)


Do you think the distinction between real and fake is often artificial?

What was your best celebrity spotting?

When it comes to trees, do you go real or fake? Why?

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