A couple of days ago I heard something on TV about how 80 percent of Christmas tree purchasers this year will be buying an artificial tree. Yeah? Oy vey.

Some other fun facts, according to that little fluff news clip, which I have done nothing to independently verify: the average price of a real Christmas tree nationwide is something like $74, while in New York City it is closer to $90. I do not know why it should cost more there; perhaps the markup required to acquire a spot from which to peddle them. I am grateful for the troubles we don’t have.

After the one and only December ferry trip to Matinicus on the 13th, once I get done hauling furniture one way and recycling the other and I get back home, I will make ginger cookies and play a lot of brass ensemble carols and Paul and I will go hunt for our Christmas tree. This only requires pulling on our boots, picking up a bow-saw, and hiking a few minutes out back. He has no doubt already had an eye out for likely prospects as he’s been after firewood which, in recent years, comes mostly from clearing big trees knocked over by storms, unblocking driveways, protecting power lines, untangling telephone wires, etc. In any case, Paul is inclined to notice a nice balsam fir while in the woods for any reason. There aren’t that many on the island.

When our children were home we’d go together to locate, cut, and carry home a tree. Our little family event was nothing compared with the struggles of tree-farm customers who supposedly spend hours deciding among hundreds of near-identical specimens. We had only to find a cluster of the right species (I’m all about the smell, and we must avoid the risk of “skunk” or “cat” spruce), identify one of approximately the right size, and inspect for some reasonable symmetry. Perfection was not required. Wild trees tend not to be uniform or as full as trees which grow out in the sunshine, pruned and tended, but the hunt is more entertaining (and the price is right).

I’d never even considered an artificial tree, but then again, I’ve never had to. The only time I’ve ever lived where fire codes prohibited real greenery for the holidays was my dorm room in Hannibal Hamlin Hall at the University of Maine at Orono. I broke the rule and brought in a few pleasantly piney and balsamy branches which I’d surreptitiously clipped from campus shrubbery. They did not kick me out of school.

When I lived alone in the camp in South Thomaston, right after college, I went into the woods and found myself a nice tree even though nobody else would see it. Some twinkly glass balls from LaVerdiere’s drug store made it look just right. Remember LaVerdiere’s?

When we lived in the Big City our grandmother always mailed us a tree from South Thomaston. I’ve told this story before, so forgive me if you’ve heard it. Each year in December there would be a card in the mailbox indicating a parcel to be picked up at the post office. Somebody would troop down there and return carrying the long, skinny box, and we’d pull out a little fir tree, cut a few days prior near the Waterman Beach Road. A couple of days of hanging upside-down would fluff the branches back out and our tabletop tree was ready. We hung it with “Dalmation bells,” another story.

Our daughter lives in Portland, and this year plans a quiet Christmas morning at home with her intended. She told us she was ready to take possession of her accumulated ornaments from childhood, the corny “baby’s first Christmas” trinket now hopelessly corroded, the hockey skates ornament and the airplane and the little cloth bag Auntie Mena made for each kid, which would somehow produce a new piece of chocolate each morning. It was fun handing them over.

We are fortunate to live where finding a fragrant, resinous softwood is not difficult and where, should we buy one, the price is not typically onerous. When the time comes, getting rid of the thing may be a small chore, but it isn’t close to impossible. I can just cut the branches off mine and use them to mulch a flower bed. The high-rise city dweller who needs to dispose of his tree undertakes more of a task.

One happy detail: the news story, with those hard-to-believe metrics I mentioned earlier, also assured us that which kind of tree to get—real or artificial—would be many families’ biggest argument this season. Let it only be so.

Here is wishing you all the merriment of December festivities, and the scent of the forest, one way or another!