I was raised on fake, then we went real for the first few years of marriage until we received a hand me down artificial. We've been using that for the past seven or eight years, then today we bought a new pre-lit plastic spruce of our very own.
It was pretty nice not to have to take the time to wind strand after strand of lights on but I have to say, I do a better job of lighting a tree than the factory did. I like my trees to glow from with in. The lights on this one are mostly at the tips of the branches with just a smattering set a bit deeper. I'm tempted to dig the light strands out of the closet and wind a few inside close to the trunk to give it that otherworldly glow I like so much. I'm not going to do it, but let the record show I was tempted.
The tree I grew up with was a monster. A horrific wire bottle brush monster. There were 2 (3?) boxes each large enough to house multiple children (we were never allowed to play in or near the boxes) where it rested during the bulk of the year. (Where the enormous boxes were stored during that time, I have no idea.) Then, come December my big brother would haul them out of hiding and assemble the beast.
First he put up the trunk, a green painted dowel about two inches in diameter. Around the trunk went a series of wire bristled rings meant to disguise the spindly green stick at the center of the tree. Then came the limbs. each one a long bristly arm with three clawed bristly fingers at the end. The bottom limbs were too heavy to support themselves, let alone lights and ornaments and they sagged to the floor until enough gifts were wrapped and deposited in their place of honor to support them. Row after row of claw-like arms were inserted into corresponding holes in the trunk until the final crowning piece was placed to form the point at the top.
The tree was enormously wide at the base and took up a very sizable portion of the room. Between each row of limbs was a gaping void through which one could easily see the bristled rings bravely attempting to hide that green painted trunk. If you walked too near the tree, you were likely to come away with a good scratch or two at the very least. But it was our tree and as such, we loved it.
My dad had (has) a light switch converter thingamajig, a little box with a light switch on it that you plugged into the wall, and then plugged the Christmas lights into the little box so there was no bother with plugging and unplugging to turn the tree on and off. It was pretty cool when you got to be the one to flip the switch. After all, even when your tree is made up of ghastly wire tri-fingered monster arms the magic of the twinkle lights is still in full force. I imagine the light magic is what saved us from the tree's coming to life and dragging it's self around the house by it's floor sweeping claws. No, that's not true. Large and misshapen as it was, that beastly tree had a good kind heart. May it rest in peace.