Every Christmas season consumers are plagued with a thousand decisions. What to get the father who has everything? What size does my sister wear? Whose family will we spend Christmas Day with? But the one question that festers in most, is the choice of whether to buy a real or artificial Christmas tree. It's a touchy subject for some, as households may be divided each year.
This season we are bringing the battle home, looking at each. The victor is up to you.
What was once a banned entity (the General Court of Massachusetts created a law in 1659 outlawing any observance of Christmas other than a church service), is now a favored tradition among the young and the old.
Russ Mangiapane Jr., a co-owner of his family's business called Mangiapane Trees, located in the Kroger parking lot off 23 Mile in New Baltimore, believes the choice between real and fake is easy.
"It's a tradition," he boasts. "People bring their kids, they come out together, and they get their tree."
Founded by Russ Mangiapane Sr., some 23 years ago, the Mangiapanes promise not only quality trees, but to always offer customers honest advice on which Cadillac-grown tree to purchase.
"Don't go buy a plastic tree. Buy a real tree," said Mangiapane Sr, a resident of Chesterfield for more than 40 years. "They give the house [life] and oxygen."
A real tree can enliven a home with its grandeur and can permeate a fresh fragrance. It is also recyclable at the end of the holidays and far easier to set up than an artificial, which can take hours to piece through. Their plentiful variety in style, shade and height, create not only a fun family shopping experience, but the opportunity to choose something different each year.
Each lot is ample in choices to suit your changing needs. Concolor firs, known for their lighter colors and softer needles, are perfect for light ornamentation. A Balsam fir is iconic for its strong warming aroma whereas a Douglas fir is known for its blue-green shades. Don't forget about Scotch Pines, Blue Spruce, and Grand and Noble firs, to name a few more.
For Mangiapane Jr., who said he could never entertain the purchase of faux tree, Frasier firs are his favorite. "They hold their needles good. They look good. And, they smell good," he said.
For Graham Walker, a New Baltimore resident, who bought a tree from Mangiapane's Wednesday evening, admits he actually favors artificial.
Pointing to his wife, he said, "She likes it," concerning the tree he loaded into the back of his pickup truck. "I like artificial. She likes real," said Walker, adding real trees require more clean up with their ever-falling needles.
While the aroma of a real tree can be tantalizing, for some the smell is not worth the hassle. As a chill sets over the state, forging outside in the cold and snow is a burden some would rather pass. Choosing an artificial tree can be a quick in-and-out process. The cost savings of buying one, long-lasting fake tree versus getting real ones yearly should be noted.
"I can put my tree up whenever I want," says Barbara Groesbeck, a Macomb Township resident who browsed through ornaments and holiday decor at the Meijer's store at 23 Mile and Gratiot in Chesterfield Township.
Groesbeck owns an artificial Christmas tree today, but in the past used to have real ones. She sticks with her artificial because of the convenience.
"I would wait to the last minute to get my tree," says Groesbeck. "My kids are all moved out now and they used to help go out and get me one."
But what many find especially convenient is the ability to purchase an artificial tree pre-lit, whether with standard white or multicolored lights. No longer must you worry about detangling yards of light strands, hoping that you not only have enough to circumnavigate your tree, but that last year's packing didn't damage any bulbs.
You can find a variety in the artificial market, as well. The Target on Gratiot and 23 Mile in Chesterfield Township offers artificial trees that resemble Grand, Noble and Douglas firs in heights ranging from 4 1/2 feet to nearly 8. You can also find them flocked, or in metallic blacks and whites.