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The Slice: Real vs. artificial: How’d that turn out?

You probably have to be at least graying at the temples to remember when artificial Christmas trees were the cause of social unrest.

But they were. Well, if you count tongue-wagging on certain suburban blocks as noteworthy discord.

It was long ago. America had more pressing concerns – the Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam, boys’ hair length, girls’ skirt lengths. But the arrival of an aluminum tree on a previously quiet street wasn’t just an expression of nonconformity. It was insurrection.

Or so it seemed.

Sure, some dead-tree traditionalists took the presence of a fake tannenbaum next door in stride. To each his own, they would say. “If they want to play ‘Jetsons,’ let ’em. That thing looks like Sputnik in a mohair sweater.”

But others got seriously torqued about it, as if a silvery nevergreen was an assault on community values. “Who do they think they are?”

The owners of metal trees probably just thought they were being modern, like owning a color TV or drinking Tang. It was, after all, the era of New and Improved.

Still, some real-tree diehards acted as if there was something profane about a Christmas tree that came in a box and smelled like a TV antenna.

At least that is how I remember it.

How about you? If you are old enough to have witnessed this cultural cataclysm, tell me what you recall about the early days of the great yule tree debate. Was it a bitter doctrinal dispute in your neighborhood? Did it tear families apart? I’ll share a few of your stories next Sunday.

While you’re at it, let me know if you think the question of real vs. artificial is totally a nonissue in 2012 or if there remain pockets of strong feelings.

Warm-up question: If such a thing existed, where would be a good location for the Inland Northwest Barn Cat Hall of Fame?

Today’s Slice question: Do good-looking people get hugged more than most of us (for obvious reasons) or less than most of us (because would-be huggers don’t want their motivations scrutinized)?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Certain Amtrak routes in other parts of the country double as “This is what happened after the factories closed” reality tours.

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