Years ago someone noted that you shouldn’t worry about the size of your Christmas tree because in the eyes of children all trees are 30 feet tall. That was, of course, at a time when children didn’t come into the marketplace hotwired to the Internet with Christmas Tree Height Calculator apps connected to the 5 megapixel cameras on their smart phones. If you’re trying to speculate about height expectations as regards Christmas trees it’s a pretty safe bet to say that size matters. No question there.

No, nowadays the big quandary is real or artificial. Christmas trees of all kinds are grown on more than 12,000 tree farms all over the United States. Seventy million trees are planted every year, with around a half-billion Christmas trees growing on farms, so this is a category that doesn’t worry too much about coming up short in the inventory department. The top-5 Christmas tree producing states are: Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin

Most artificial trees come from – you guessed it – China, and there’s no shortage of the 100% recycled plastics from used PVC packaging materials they’re using there either. Advocates of artificial trees say they’re convenient, reusable, and don’t drop needles all over the living room. But they don’t smell like a pine forest!

Last year – according to the National Christmas Tree Association – consumers spent $2 billion for 28 million real trees and 12 million artificial trees, with artificial trees growing in share while costing almost twice as much as a real tree. Tree sales this year are likely to surpass last year’s level, a sign that emotional values of the season are, once again outweighing the consumers’ rational, wallet-watching side that this economy has tended to bring out in folks.

So it’s deck the halls time, and the decision as to real or artificial is still open for the next 4 days. And if our work understanding emotional decision-making has taught us anything, it’s that there is far more wrapped up in the ideal of a tree than whatever winds up under it.

In the immortal words of Charles Dickens about his character, Ebenezer Scrooge, “it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”