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The White House Christmas tree vs. Congress’s tree: Which is better?

Important: Do you prefer the lumpy, living White House tree, or the Capitol’s picture-perfect cut specimen? #notmytree

These two trees have a long history of one-upmanship. In the early 1980s, Congress scheduled its Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting to pre-empt the White House’s star-studded National Christmas Tree extravaganza. The executive branch eventually won the calendar battle, but the war over which tree is better still rages.

Round 1: The trees

A Colorado blue spruce permanently planted on the White House’s South Lawn, the National Christmas Tree is an environmentally friendly symbol of hope, joy and new life. Compare that to the carbon footprint of this year’s Capitol tree — cut down and then trucked 2,500 miles to D.C.

Every year, the superintendent of the Capitol grounds selects the perfect evergreen with a straight trunk and full, lush foliage. This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree, an 80-foot Engelmann spruce from a national forest in Idaho, beat out literally millions of lesser trees for the honor.

Round 2: The decorations

A picture of patriotic elegance, the National Christmas Tree will be draped with a net of LED energy-efficient red, white and blue lights and sprinkled with stars and sugar plum ornaments. Plus, unlike some antisocial trees down the street, this Christmas tree has a posse: 57 little Christmas trees, representing U.S. states and territories plus D.C., circle the big tree.

Everyone can see that the National Christmas Tree’s net of lights is a sad attempt to disguise its essential lumpiness. The perfectly symmetrical Capitol tree, on the other hand, will be trimmed with more form-fitting lights, plus thousands of handmade ornaments that represent the state of Idaho, including adorable little burlap potato bags.

Round 3: The ceremony

The only things brighter than the National Christmas Tree are the stars brought in to help the first family light it. This year, there will be performances by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, The Lumineers, James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, Yolanda Adams and Chance the Rapper. The event will also be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel on Monday at 7 p.m.

The National tree may have star power, but you have to win a lottery ticket to get to attend the lighting. Meanwhile, the Capitol tree lighting on Tuesday is open to anyone who happens by — and it’s a down-home good time, with the U.S. Air Force Band playing holiday tunes. Isabella Gerard, a fifth-grader from Boise, Idaho, will press the button to light the tree.

Closing Arguments

OK, so the National Christmas Tree may be a little homely, but don’t forget that it’s at the center of a White House Christmas extravaganza, with musical performances nightly (Dec. 2-22, except Dec. 12 and 19).

The Capitol Christmas Tree doesn’t aspire to the glitz and glamour of its White House cousin. Like Congress, this is a tree for and by the people, and it was cheered on by small-town Americans as it made its way to D.C.

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More about these yule duels

Peace and harmony? Forget it. Everyone knows the real reason for the season is fighting with your family. Give politics a break and try out these fresh flashpoints — all based on local holiday events.

The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker vs. The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Ford’s Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” vs. The Second City’s “Twist Your Dickens”

A short, sad history of the National Christmas Tree(s)

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