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Oh, Tannenbaum -- Are You Real or Fake?

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CARY — Back when "Oh, Tannenbaum" was written, Christmas trees were produced one way: by Mother Nature. Generations have loved gazing at trees decked in cherished ornaments. Now, as the calendar is about to roll over to the year 2000, many of us continue to feel that the holidays wouldn't be the same without a Christmas tree.

Today, however, there are choices. Mother-Nature-made or man-made? Whether you buy your tree at a farm or the department store there are advantages to both.

Real trees run about $40 to $60. Artificial trees can cost several hundred dollars, but if you use them every year, they will save you money in the long run.

Debates about real vs. fake are as spirited as those over whether tinsel should be meticulously affixed strand by strand or casually tossed.

Some people insist on the real thing. "When I grew up, we always had a fake tree and I always wanted a real tree," recalled Joelle Sevio. So I promised myself when I get my own house, I'd get a real one."

Did she say fake?

"We've changed the name. We call them permanent trees," said Terri Rowe of the Christmas and Pool Shop.

Today's "permanent" trees are not the same artificial trees your parents used to put up. Oh, you can still buy those silver and gold retro-trees but the most popular ones these days look real.

"You have some trees that are extremely natural-looking. We set up this forest back here and a lot of times people will walk back and have to be here for a minute before they realize we're not selling live trees. Ha!," laughed Dennis Adams of Pop 'N' Son Trees.

They may look real, but they're missing one thing.

"(With) a real tree you have a fresh smell. I mean, a lot of people say, it smells good. So you have a fresh smell."

"That does come up. What I suggest to people is, get a little potpourri or some scented candles that give you the scent that you like."

And who wouldn't like a tree that comes ready to light? Nowadays, they come from the factory with lights on them. They are easier to deal with than a real tree, but the family can still enjoy decorating it.

Many families enjoy picking out their real tree each year. And if you give your real tree plenty of water and keep it in a cool place it may not be permanent, but it'll last -- at least until Christmas is over.

Now about that tinsel....

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Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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