About two weeks ago, I met a beautiful, self-sustaining fireplace; a multi-dimensional specimen that checked hearth boxes I had no idea existed.

Its amenities included: a built-in record player and stereo system, plus slots in which to store your top 10 right there; a compact bar with pull-out tray, which sprung forward like a small and attentive butler (I imagine) to offer you one of four neatly arrayed cocktail glasses. Naturally, it had a jauntily crackling fire, plus toy tools with which to poke it. It looked like someone had pulled a brick mantelpiece from a wall, marble base and all, and moved it into this antique store. For an undisclosed (assuming I couldn't afford it, I didn't ask) but surely Worth It amount, you get a highly convincing fire simulation guaranteed to send your yuletide cheer quotient rocketing through the roof. All you need is a free outlet and you're golden—literally, aglow in the warm light of your eFlames.

Why the electric fireplace had never before occurred to me, I can't say, but now it has become the only thing I want. My strange little apartment has no living room but, for reasons known only to its long-dead architect, two fireplaces. Neither of them work, of course, but you can see the potential. Right now, I use them mostly for storage; little micro-alcoves convenient for squat cabinets that lack any other aesthetic context, or for a record player, if I wanted to delight/terrorize my neighbors by piping Heart’s “Magic Man” up through the buildings throat. Sadly, I cannot fill them with flames, unless we're talking candles. That scenario would surely end badly for my cat, though, because he is not nearly as afraid of candles as he should be, plus it would be a farce. Basically, I cohabitate with this brick beast looming all sad and useless in my bedroom, unable to do its one job. It is not living up to its full potential, so by the transitive property, neither am I.

But would I be, if I were to import a third fireplace into my home, one that imparts the distinctly cozy atmosphere of the Sleepytime Tea box, or — on weekends — of a bitchin' Rumpus Room with conversation pit? Would I then be able to put on the holiday special of my dreams, having finally installed a warm mantle on which to rest my scotch snifter?

I think probably yes. To acquire a real, working fireplace is far too fancy a proposition for me—that’s like the exclusive purview of townhouses and Gramercy, especially after SOMEONE banned the construction of new, wood-burning fireplaces in 2014, believing the smoke to be hazardous to our health. While I lack for hundreds of thousands-to-millions of dollars, however, I do have multiple outlets, some in close proximity to the castrated hearths. An electric fireplace is the obvious solution. Maybe not one with an entertainment system and wet bar built in, but one I can stuff inside my sealed fireplace to really complete the scene, without all of the pesky upkeep that centuries-old vents and flues require.

And consider this: the electric fireplace is so much more than just a frivolous decorative item. Those of you whose apartments are "warmed" by one lonely hot pipe in the corner will doubtless be intrigued to know that some models double as space heaters. Whose temperatures you can actually control. Just plug in that sucker and blammo! It's like you've rolled in a yule log harvested directly from the North Pole, doused it in hot wine, and set that sucker blazing like a dang Christmas pudding. Now all you need to do is cue up some fire sounds, which I've taken the liberty of doing for you. You're welcome.

Plus, to return to the all-important matter of safety, electric fireplaces probably won't cause your building to burn down, because — as an informational page that popped up when I searched “electric fireplace HAZARDS” explains — "there is no real fire. While electric fireplaces create the look of flames, these flames are merely an illusion of light and can’t harm you.”

Also, you can station them on basically any kind of flooring, even when that flooring is uneven because the contractors who slapped your building together favored abstract shapes over hard angles, meaning the electric fireplace is a very versatile machine. And furthermore, this website that was obviously written by electric fireplaces continues, “you can use the flame effects with or without heat, so you can enjoy the ambiance of dancing flames any time of year, or even as you drift off to sleep.” This, apparently, is “one of the best things about having a faux fire,” there’s not all that dreadful “spreading out [of] wood and embers,” nor the whole bit about “covering them with cooler ash, ... [making] sure every last ember is out before heading to bed.” Just be careful with that snifter, because liquids and electronics don’t mix!

The only drawback: electric fireplaces are not exactly cheap. They appear to run from about $84 (reasonable, but also the flames could for sure be more convincing) to, grimace, $800+. Which is a lot, but then just think about your life inside the tissue box you call home, how vastly it would improve if even half of that box were fireplace. Just think how powerful you would feel, if you were able to control this famously volatile and independent-minded element. Can you put a price on that steely sense of invincibility? On the confidence that comes from inviting inflammable flames into your home, and therefore having outfoxed nature? Presently I cannot, but I hope that, at some point within the next few weeks, I will be able to tell you exactly what that's worth.