We don't have to board a transcontinental jet bound for California to see Tinseltown. It's right in our own neighborhood. Tinsel is the quintessential holiday decoration and the homes and shops of Berkshire County are full of it. Follow me to my favorite tinsel-laden places.

First stop: my living room. Here the 6-foot tall Fraser fir has pride of place in front of the window. Fat, sparkly tinsel - hoarded from year to year - drapes the tree from top to bottom. Personally, I think the twinkle from the tiny white lights is magnified a hundred times in each twirly strand of golden tinsel, making the whole tree glow with a magical, mystical shimmer. Then add the extra reflection and magnification from the windowpanes and we have a roomful of subtle illumination, which also spills outside to brighten the snow- laden branches of the foundation plantings.

What could be more welcoming on a cold winter's night? Next stop: my den. If one tree is good, then two trees are better. Right? Although not a big fan of artificial trees, I succumbed to the post-Christmas sales one year, and bought a narrow green tree in a tall white planter. It's one of those pre-lit specimens, so the first year I just flipped the switch and had an instant holiday decoration; but it wasn't a Christmas tree. The next year I embellished it with narrow silver tinsel stars, strands of small crystal beads and tiny shiny ornaments. Finally, it was crowned with a small paper angel and it was a pretty decent auxiliary Christmas tree.

Now let's voyage in our tinselseeking ship to ports unknown. Look in the sky for a glow of lights and you know a mall will exist under it. Most malls have at least a couple of large department stores, often part of national chains, and they all have decorating crews who know how to tinsel. Yes, the highest linear foot consumption of tinsel has to belong to the huge department stores which string miles of it around trees, pillars, and any object that does not move. I think the visual stimulation from all the tinselbedecked objects and architectural features overwhelms my already- foggy brain. When I wander into one of these overly decorated palaces of conspicuous consumption, I forget what I'm there to buy, and roam aimlessly from aisle to aisle until I find a welcome exit.

Personally, I believe tinsel belongs on a tree and more is not necessarily better. Many restaurants are guilty of gross tinsellation. I enjoy dining by the glow of Christmas lights on a tree, draped with some tinsel; but please don't hang swags of lights and tinsel from the light fixture over my head, or outline the pictures on the wall with colored shimmer. I don't want to think about tiny strands of Mylar - or similar materials - sifting down silently into my food and drink. I'm sparkly enough, thank you.

Lastly, let's spend a moment pondering the tinsel-clad folks, who must believe they are psychically related to forest grown evergreens. I can understand a little facial glitter sprinkled around shadowed eyes and reddened cheeks; but I don't comprehend the need to tinsel one's torso or head. Tinsel boas and belts might look cute on tiny angels in the Christmas pageant; but I think adults should stick with dressing in ugly holiday sweaters for parties and leave the shimmer and glimmer to the stationary decorations at homes and party palaces.

Tinsel is a unique type of decoration. It can make a solemn evergreen into a bright symbol of the season; but - like pixie dust - its use must be selective to be effective. So drape your tree with just the right amount of tinsel and have a Happy Christmas.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.