The very act of getting the stump into the stand was the first hurdle, for the tree always leaned and the trunks were always crooked. After much sweat and I dare say swearing, my father would finally wrestle the tree into the stand and get it to stand at least half-way straight. Next step was to get it into the house, which involved a lot of knocking pictures off walls and causing the tree to lose half of its sparse needles. After that there would be a big debate about which side was the best and which was to be turned toward the wall.
Lights came next. No one ever thought to put them away neatly, so first order was to untangle the yards and yards of cord. The bulbs were big and got hot. Really hot, like second degree burns if you touched them hot. And back then engineers hadn't figured out how to wire them so the bulbs stayed on if one burnt out. You had to go through each bulb and unscrew them and put in a replacement to find the clinker. And woe to the person that used a blinker! The blinking action wouldn't start right away, the lights had to warm up first, so many a times half the lights were strung on the tree before it was discovered that you had a blinking light bulb. Then you had to take off the lights and hunt for the dreaded blinker. And the plugs were like everything made post-war, big and heavy and made for utility. Trying to hide them in the skimpy branches was a challenge.
By this time our parents were exhausted and the idea of a cozy evening by the fire decorating the tree had long flown out the window. Ornaments were given over to the children to hang, which resulted in most being hung as high as a seven-year-old's reach. It wasn't until we had finished hanging the last ornament that someone would discover that we hadn't put the angel on top. Dad would climb up a ladder and reach into the tree, knocking off a third of the ornaments and making the tree list further to the right.
The final step was tinsel. People don't use tinsel anymore, but back in the day of swamp pines with big gaping holes it was a necessity. We bought cartloads that had to be strung one strand at a time and draped just so over each branch. Well, at least for the first hour of tinsel-applying, after that it was thrown on by handfuls and we called it a day.
Then we'd stand back and admire the tree, the most beautiful sight we had ever seen. By the end of the week, half the needles will have fallen off, but for one brief moment it was magical.
And that is why, dear younger-than-mes, when people wax poetically about real trees, I just sit back and enjoy my faux tree No sweating, no swearing, no tinsel. And no sweeping up needles until Memorial Day!