It is the time of year for family, friends and traditions. I have written before in this column about how my family spends alternate holidays with extended family...

It is the time of year for family, friends and traditions. I have written before in this column about how my family spends alternate holidays with extended family. We have become near experts in logistics as we work out travel, lodging, entertainment and meals (as in getting confirmations of who is cooking what).

When it comes to Christmas, there is also another conversation about the issue of the tree. At this point in our marriage - 15 years - my husband Murv and I have it all worked out. In the beginning, though, there were a number of debates over whether we'd decorate with a real or artificial tree.

Our respective childhoods weighed heavily in the discussions. Growing up in Indiana, Murv and his family always made an annual trek to find a real tree. To this day, he talks about the fragrance of the family favorite, the Scotch pine tree. For me, however, growing up in a suburb of Cincinnati, the annual trek for a tree meant going downstairs to the basement to help haul up the big box which held our tree. It was always an artificial tree, no fragrance, but a fair amount of tinsel we were unable to pull from its branches.

In our shared life, Murv and I made the real-tree trek an annual tradition. The tradition held until we became parents and moved to Central Ohio. As it turns out, pine isn't for everyone and our son Ian's babysitter has an incredible allergy to it. Initially we tried to work out the dates she'd be in our home and then schedule our trip to the tree lot around them. The plan seemed to work - except when we were especially busy and our tree wasn't trekked for until after Dec. 22 (when the selection tended toward the scrawny "Charlie Brown Christmas" type).

The resulting frustration was enough for my husband to open the door, literally, to an artificial Christmas tree. Like many people, I often go all out with the Christmas decorations in our home - especially when the celebration is at our house. Once I put up my holiday décor, I feel the need to have the tree to complement the poinsettias, the garland and the wreath. My husband bowed to the pressure of my complaining and Ian's many, many questions about when we were getting a tree and we bought an artificial tree.

Our break with tradition created a new one: The following year we bought another artificial tree (did I mention I love decorating?). We haven't forsaken a real tree; we still get one of those, too. In the end, there are three, yes, three trees. It adds to the magic of the holiday season as everyone gets in on the decorating and celebrating. Of course post-holiday "tradition" of dismantling and clean-up has remained constant in that no one is eager to help me do it.

-Tracy Townsend is a news reporter and anchor with 10TV News HD.