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Let the debate continue

December 8, 2011
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

There has been an on-going debate about what kind of Christmas tree is the best: real or artificial. In my lifetime, I have had both. I have come to appreciate having a real Christmas tree in our house and so do our children.

It is one of our traditions that each of the kids rotate, from year to year, to choose the Christmas tree. We have gone to places where you can cut down your own tree which was mostly the kids and I picking one out while my husband had to do the dirty work. We have also, and mostly, gone to a place to pick one out that has been cut for us already. I think both ways is a great family tradition.

The one problem that my children might have is that we are probably the last people to put our tree up. This is because I highly believe in the 12 days of Christmas which doesn't start until after Christmas itself and in order to fulfill this timeless tradition with a real tree, it has to go up later then when most people put their tree up.

So, we may be the last one on the block to put the tree up but we are also still enjoying our tree long after the holiday.

Yes, it is true that while there is some routine daily maintenance that needs to be done if you have a real Christmas tree and yes, there are those pesky needles that need to be picked up after the tree is disposed of, I think that taking a look at a real Christmas tree might be worth your time.

Interestingly enough, I know some people because of allergies or because they don't want the pine needles in the home, will still have a fresh tree outside of their home. This may be an interesting alternative for your family.

A real Christmas tree should be checked daily or even twice a day especially during the first week you have the tree home, for water levels in the stand. According to the Gardening Professors website, "a fresh, well-maintained Christmas tree is very difficult to ignite. Numerous fire agencies and others have documented that a fresh tree that is kept watered will self-extinguish even if exposed to direct flame. And faulty wiring is even less likely to ignite a fresh tree. The story changes completely, however, if trees are allowed to dry.

"Of course, dry trees drop needles as well. So the key to keeping your Christmas safe (and tidy) is to get a fresh tree and keep it watered. For many trees this means checking and re-filling the water daily, especially during the first week when the tree is brought in the home. It's not a real Christmas without a real tree make sure it's a safe one as well."

And as far as the environmentally conscious consumers and their choice of Christmas trees (and according to the paper entitled "Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Artificial versus Natural Christmas Tree") "the natural tree is the better option than the artificial tree, with respect to impacts on climate change and resource depletion."

However, according to the same paper, "the natural tree is not the perfection solution either and people who prefer using an artificial tree can reduce their impacts by increasing the life span of their artificial tree over 20 years."

So, there you have it. The debate will continue whether an artificial tree or a real tree is best.

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