Every year, we read articles in newspapers and magazines about how difficult is to be single during the holidays and how to cope with the loneliness, the lack of association with in-laws, etc., etc.

But there are some definite advantages to being single at Christmas time, not the least of which is SAFETY.Take it from me. I'm married, with children. It was a lot safer for me at Christmas when I was single, without children.

For example, I think I'm on firm ground when I say:

Single people don't have to rappel down their roofs in the winter.

I did. See, for the past 86 years, my wife and our two boys, ages 3 and 5, have been repeating this phrase: "Brent (my kids sometimes call me Brent), when are you going to put lights on our house? The Reynoldses have had their Christmas lights up since July 12, 1966."

I've always tried to reason with them by saying: "If we put lights up, our electricity bill will increase, leaving me with less money to buy you all those crime-fighting-heroes-from-the-sewer you want for Christmas."

But this year, in a rare moment of weakness, I bowed to the pressure of my family's desire to turn the exterior of our house into something you'd find along the Las Vegas Strip.

I couldn't find a long enough ladder, though, so I had to climb up onto the roof, which was not only steep but covered by frost, even at 1 in the afternoon. To reach the far end of the north-facing slope, I had to tie a rope around the chimney and lower myself down the roof, trying not to aggravate my shingles (ouch!) as I clipped each little light onto the trim.

Now, if you live alone, you don't have to worry about stuff like that, do you? You also don't have to worry about:

Ungrateful, violent Christmas trees.

Our Christmas tree turned on me the other night. If it hadn't got its signals crossed, I might not be alive to write this column today, which, I'm sure, would have been just fine for you, Dear Reader.

It all started a couple of hours after Thanksgiving, when the whines of "I wanna Christmas tree" wore me out. At the Christmas tree ghetto, my oldest kid insisted on the first tall, awkward tree he saw. We brought the tree home and stuck it in its waterstand. Just as the people from the Utah State University Extension Service suggested, I even added some eggnog to the water and sang "O, Tanning Balm" to make the tree feel welcome in our Old-Fashioned Country Christmas Home.

But somewhere I must have gone wrong. In the middle of the night, Old Sapface came crashing down to the floor, lights and all, landing in front of the TV, where I normally sit to watch one of those provocative, in-depth journalistic marvels, such as "A Current Affair." If I'd been watching TV that night, I might have been mortally impaled by a candy cane.

You single people out there don't even have to get a Christmas tree if you don't want to, right?

And so, as we enter another festive, joyous holiday season, let's all find something to be thankful for.

In my case, I'm just happy I had some rope in my toolbox. As soon as I get it untied from the chimney, I think I'll use it to strangle our Christmas tree. . . .