So. The decorations are down, the lights have been put away and the Christmas Tree has been stripped and taken down to the bottom of the garden. (Never mind Twelfth Night – the rule in our house is clear up Christmas before everyone’s back to school.)
This picture shows the Christmas Tree on its last night: in our house the Christmas Tree always stands in that corner. But that always is a temporary thing (in much the same way as saying ‘the sea has always beaten on the foot of Dover’s cliffs’, when we know that until the Mesolithic period there was no sea there to beat): we have only lived in this house for eighteen years.
Also, it isn’t even the same tree: every year there is a different tree. That reminds me of ancient Europe in Frazer’s Golden Bough, where passing strangers are seized and taken to the village, then dressed up and fêted before being sacrificed to ensure the fertility of the year.
In our house, each year’s tree is screwed into the same stand and decorated with the same lights and baubles: each wears the same robes for a few weeks, before being despatched to the garden.
But I want a more benign image for the tree. Perhaps I should think of a bride, wearing the veil her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother wore, which she, in turn, hopes to see on her own granddaughter’s face fifty years hence. The bride is The Bride, as the tree becomes The Christmas Tree. If only for the valley of the year.