“That’s it! I had it with these pine needles! Next year we’re getting an artificial tree!”

Yes, after 20 straight days of vacuuming and watching the cat climb the Christmas tree, my mother had reached the end of her rope and said goodbye to real trees forever.

Decades later, I’m still on Team Artificial.

It should be noted that the real trees of my childhood were not those one would find in a decorating magazine. Looking back at some old photos, I’m convinced Dad got these sorry-looking trees free from a friend who dealt in merchandise that fell off a truck. There weren’t enough ornaments on the planet to fill in the holes.

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Anyway, after Mom vacuumed for the last time, she went out and scored an artificial tree in an after-Christmas sale. The reason it was on sale became apparent the following year when we took it out of the box. The tree was white and looked downright weird to me. Even the cat wanted no part of it.

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Eventually, we got a decent-looking green tree, and over the years, I've seen the advantages of being on Team Artificial.

-In the long run, you'll save money.

-Some trees now come pre-lit!

-No pine needles to vacuum.

-They're not a fire hazard.

-There's no pan of water you have to keep filled.

-No unwanted guests that might accompany a real tree into your home. Squirrel!!!

-Our cat does not wish to climb an artificial tree. (It should be noted, however, that the desire to climb an artificial tree depends on the cat.)

-If you've got the right house, you can buy a tree, decorate it the first time, throw a sheet over it after Christmas to keep it from getting dusty and slide the thing into a closet. Next year, pull out the tree, remove the sheet, plug in the tree and you're done in five minutes. (Sadly, we do not have a house that will accommodate our tree. If we ever build a house, I will insist the architect include a "tree closet.”)

-You're not killing a beautiful tree.

Look, I'm not a tree hugger, but I feel sad after Christmas when I see trees tossed out on the side of the road. And considering the price of energy these days, you're throwing out firewood.

Of course, I know plenty of people who love real trees. (My best friend buys one every year … from the local fire department. That kind of irony only happens in New Jersey, the land of weird laws.) Many on Team Real argue artificial trees don't have that holiday pine tree smell. But this argument doesn't hold water as far as I'm concerned. Considering the number of pine trees in Alabama, I can always lop off a branch and bring it inside.

My wife turns our current tree into a work of art, and we leave it up until Epiphany on January 6. We don't have to worry about it drying out, and it looks just as beautiful as the day it went up.

By the way, there's one rule that applies to both real and artificial trees: If you have a cat, it doesn't matter what kind of tree you have. Kitty will still swat all the ornaments off the low branches. Our floor is very colorful right now.

Randy Tatano is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow, and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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