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Real or fake? The right choice for your home

In the battle of tree vs. tree, real and fake trees are pretty equally matched. Ultimately, the choice is a personal one that may depend entirely on a family's long-standing

traditions.

When she was younger, Bee Wallack's family went out to the woods to cut down their Christmas tree. To decorate it, they made paper chains and ornaments.

"Everything was just so much simpler," said Wallack, who is known as "Aunt Bee."

Though she has fond memories of real trees, this year, Wallack set up a new artificial tree, complete with lights, at her antique shop, A Flea An'tique in Hoschton.

"It shows up really pretty at night with the lights," Wallack said. She used the same tree at her house last year, but doesn't plan to set up one at home this Christmas.

At her shop, customers are interested in vintage holiday decorations. "They're

looking for memories," Wallack said.

In downtown Lawrenceville, Jennifer Huff used a white artificial tree in the window of her bridal shop.

"The tree was perfect for what I was doing," said Huff, owner of Crystal Crane Bridal in Lawrenceville.

She created a winter scene using a white tree, snowflakes and a white wedding dress with silver beading. The tree has clear and blue lights on it.

While a fake tree was ideal for her store window, Huff does enjoy real Christmas trees. "The one thing that's nice about the real trees is the scent," Huff said.

At the tree farm

For Denise and Tommy Thompson, putting up a real Christmas tree is an annual tradition. They cut a tree from their own backyard every year. The couple owns Thompson's Tree Farm in Lawrenceville, which is located on the back lot behind their house.

This year, the Thompsons are offering Leyland cypress and Carolina sapphire trees grown on their farm, as well as precut Fraser firs from North Carolina.

"Most people want to cut their own," Tommy Thompson said.

Some families have been coming to the farm since the Thompsons began selling trees in 2001. Kids particularly like seeing the Christmas trees growing at the farm.

"In their eyes, they're all beautiful," Thompson said.

The Thompsons are the busiest during the first weekend in December. "This time of year is really fun, especially when you see people coming back year after year," Denise Thompson said.

Environmental benefits

Though it may seem otherwise, buying real Christmas trees is actually environmentally friendly, said Connie Wiggins, the executive director of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful.

"They're certainly renewable and they're recyclable," Wiggins said.

As Christmas trees grow, they also help remove carbon dioxide from the air, she said.

After Christmas, the trees can be recycled. In Gwinnett, they will be collected at about 25 sites throughout the county. Many of them will be chipped and used as mulch at county parks and schools, Wiggins said.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful has been recycling trees in the county since 1984.

"I think we have recycled well over 1 million trees," Wiggins said.