Dealing with Christmas tree antics

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ho, ho, ho, you wuss. Be a man. That was the message running through my head several days ago as I stood, baffled, in the foyer of our house, a victim of the latest adult milestone in my life.

Milestones in life come more slowly with age, but despite the infrequency, they tend to be more blunt trauma than childhood “firsts.”

Children have it easy. Their lives are awash in life-changing moments.

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In just a few short years, children go from their first words to their first steps in months, from first haircut to first tooth loss in just a handful of years.

Multiple years can separate the adult moments.

Generally, homeownership is step one.

Then comes the sudden realization of how much taxes impact you, then marriage and then, maybe, parenthood.

Somewhere along the way, you sustain body blows seemingly from an invisible hand that puts you firmly in your place — as a haphazard, fallible member of adult society.

Case in point — the first Cooper Christmas tree.

Now it should be noted that the saga of the first Christmas tree was memorable, infuriating and fun.

In the course of one single day, the heavy weight shouldered by millions of married guys all over the world came to bear.

Although it may not appear to be the case, I’m generally a fairly handy guy, so the tree seemed a piece of cake.

Years of watching my dad taught me the bottom inch or so of the tree needs to be trimmed off. No problem.

Grabbed a saw and proceeded to slice a nearly laser-straight cut across the trunk.

Plopped the sucker in the stand, made some adjustments and hauled the fir in the house.

So far, so good.

Admittedly, the tree sat in the foyer sipping water, but sans any holiday garb for a few days. Finally, the stars aligned and we both got home relatively early one night.

Let the tree decorating commence!

Being the guy, I was dispatched to get the lights on the tree. As a bachelor I never saw the need to put up a tree — seemed kind of sissy to do that by myself — so we had purchased brand-spanking-new lights.

Within minutes, the lights were out of the package, tested to ensure they all lit up and around the tree they went. Easy.

Then, as I neared the top of the tree and the end of the lights, the curse that has plagued scores of men in Natchez, this year alone occurred.

Mysteriously a section of lights went out.

No problem. As a high schooler, I prided myself on the fact that I could rebuild a Motorcraft 2100 carburetor in mere minutes.

A strand of lights was no match for me. I just needed to find the one pesky bulb and replace it with a spare.

One by one I replaced bulbs going up and down the strand. With each new plug-in, more bafflement and frustration grew inside of me.

After approximately 45 minutes, each bulb had been swapped out — at least twice — and I was no closer to solving the mystery.

I gave up, determined to come back to the problem when I had more time and more patience.

Within no time, Julie managed to tuck the portion of dim bulbs into the back of the tree and said, “See, it’s all fixed now.”

And in an instant, I’d seen yet another first — my pride saved by my wife.

Ah, married life is good, dim bulbs and all.

Merry Christmas!

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or