There’s nothing more comforting or familiar than family holiday traditions.

For those who celebrate Christmas, this often includes, the who, what, when, where, and why of the Christmas tree. My family tradition was to drive about an hour away to a Christmas tree farm while it was still light out and then hike into the field looking for the perfect pine or fir. We were always looking for one with full branches, about six feet tall, with soft needles so us kids wouldn’t wind up hurting ourselves. The farm had hot cocoa and candy canes and a gift shop and I have amazing memories of driving back at night and seeing all of the lights.

Now I live on my own, and I’m living in a completely different part of the country. It’s time for me to start making my own Christmas tree traditions, and that means figuring out whether I want a real or artificial tree in my own home. The reality is that there are pros and cons to both, and that’s not even taking into account that my pets will probably knock the darn thing down anyway. Here’s what you should think about before taking the Xmas plunge.

If you’re thinking about a real tree, one of the pros is that it can be a fun experience, whether that’s going to a tree farm like my family did or going to a corner stand in your city. The trees are relatively local and probably haven’t been shipped huge distances. They also smell super great!

Real Christmas trees can be good for the environment. Even during their short lives, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air, they’re biodegradable, and if you’ve got the right equipment, they’re even recyclable.

That said, those who are extremely environmentally conscious should consider the following. Finding a mulcher to recycle a tree can be difficult. In addition, pesticides a tree farm might be using to grow their trees and the impact that can have on the environment.

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