The Christmas tree - a lament
Posted by Simon Parke, 07 January 2019, 3.12pm
You may have long forgotten about your Christmas tree.
It may have been back in its box or out in the street a while ago.
It’s only a tree, after all.
But the truth is we found it pretty hard letting go of ours.
It was the last aspect of the season we dismantled, an activity that was twice postponed as January 6th rapidly progressed.
It felt like we were putting the dog down, a mix of guilt and sadness. No vet… but there were tears.
We bought it from the garden centre, where it was ‘netted’ by the nice man, to make it manageable, followed by a difficult car journey with a tree top in the driver’s ear.
The only rear view was Norwegian pine.
And then it sort of settles in to the home, blocking the way past the sofa, but such a scent, and sparkly, with decorations gathered down the years, each a story in itself.
And there it stands in the front room like a maitre d’, doing nothing, but somehow presiding over everything, gatherings small and large…and solitude.
Sometimes one has to sit alone with this tree.
And now I stand for a while remembering all the people who have enjoyed its aura over the last four weeks…young and old, name by name by name.
It is like contemplating angels, only more interesting.
Until suddenly and too soon – and where has the time gone? - it’s time for it to go.
The neighbours are removing their tree from the window, the wise men have finally arrived, (apparently) and there is a rude pressure to have all light, glow and sparkle dismantled.
And so we say goodbye to it all - the wreaths come down from doorways, the cards from the shelves, the various nativity scenes, where a baby Jesus (woolen) is discovered to be missing… the tree’s baubles are boxed, and finally the lights…they go out for the last time.
And you may tell me this is a first world problem, which is what people usually say when they don’t feel something…their lack of connection somehow made grand, as though they are ambassadors for international concern.
But we’ll let them be and ponder instead the space left behind.
The tree is in the garden, waiting for the Easter fire; while inside, mere space, sparse space, a genius of emptiness, waiting to begin again.
The genius of sadness is the space it leaves in its wake.
And the fact that we can now get past the sofa again…