The smell. The feel. The tradition.

For those stopping at Boulder area lots on Saturday to purchase their Christmas trees, the benefits of buying a real tree as opposed to an artificial one were numerous and evident.

"Setting up a fake tree just takes forever," east Boulder County resident Staci Collins said, as she and her family strapped a balsam fir to the roof of their car at the Munson Farms tree lot. "(Balsams) are soft and very fragrant. The branches aren't sheered so the ornaments hang off it nicely. I just love a real tree."

Munson Farms, located on the northwest corner of 75th Street and Valmont Road in east Boulder, offers four varieties of trees, according to owner and operator Chris Munson: white firs from southern Colorado, Noble pines from Oregon, Fraser firs from North Carolina, and balsams from Nova Scotia. Munson said each sells equally well. In his experience, people usually base their pick on family traditions.

"They want what they had as kids," he said. "Some people want the big tall trees and some people want the slender Charlie Browns."

For Collins, the balsam she took home to decorate Saturday held special significance because it came from near Antigonish, Nova Scotia, the area her great-grandfather first settled in after emigrating from Scotland.

Munson Farms has been selling Christmas trees for nearly 20 years. After a period of declining demand, Munson said, he believes live trees are making a comeback. Munson lot staff member Jose Mosqueda agreed, noting he has been working seven days a week since Thanksgiving helping people pick out their perfect pine, and will likely be there every day through Dec. 23.

Just down 75th Street from Munson Farms at Colorado Native Christmas Trees on Saturday, Trinity Camper strapped an 11-foot tall Noble fir in the bed of his truck with the help of lot owner Tony Smith. Camper, a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq with the Colorado Army National Guard, said he is unemployed at the moment. He drove to the Colorado Native lot from his home in Frederick after seeing on the lot's website that Smith offered deep discounts and even free trees to veterans.

"Finding Tony was a blessing," Camper said.

Not only did Camper take home his fir for around half of its estimated $250 value, Smith threw in a second 4-foot tall Colorado native pine, one of the untold number of trees he clears from private lands each year to sell on his lot, for free.

"I see it as you're sacrificing your time and service so I can stand out here and sell Charlie Brown Christmas Trees," Smith said.

When asked what he viewed as the advantages of a real tree over an artificial tree, Camper responded, "everything."

"Having that living thing in your house... it completes the Christmas spirit," he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or