SOMERSWORTH There's nothing like the smell of fresh pine filling the house during the holiday season.

That's why, every December, I head down the street to the lot with the man selling trees and buy a wreath.

When it comes to the actual tree, I bought a fake one a few years ago and haven't looked back. It was on sale for 50 percent off the day after Christmas at one of those big box stores, and I couldn't resist.

The advantages of putting up a fake tree are numerous. I don't have to shell out 50 bucks (or more) every holiday season (and on a journalist's salary, that's a lot of dough). Nor do I have to strap it to my car or try to make it fit into a tree stand. I just go down cellar, take it out of its container, assemble a few branches and boom instant tree.

My preference for fake over real isn't about pine needles, because believe me, my fake tree sheds plenty of fake needles every year. Nor is it about the environment certainly, by utilizing an artificial tree, a real one remains firmly planted in the ground in a Canadian forest for at least another year. But a real tree can decompose in a sand dune or be mulched with much less impact to the environment than my fake tree, which inevitably will find its way to a landfill.

For me, it's about consistency. Stringing lights and hanging ornaments on an artificial tree, with its branches of even size throughout the tree's circumference, is much easier than on a real tree with its awkward, varying boughs.

My fake tree will always stand up straight. It doesn't need water or plant food. It will stay the same shade of green every day it's up. And it looks just as good from the window as a real tree.

And really, once you're more than three feet away from a tree, can you really tell that it's real or fake? The Christmas tree is a symbol of good times spent with family, creating memories, sharing Christmas treats and treasures. Is anyone's Christmas really ruined by the presence of a fake tree?

As for the smell of fresh pine, well, they sell cans of the stuff at the store. Just give it a good spray before you put on any ornaments or lights.

Or better yet, do what I do buy a wreath made of real pine to get your pine-smell fix. As for the tree itself, I'll stick with good ol' fake. The Christmas memories will be all the same.