The year 2011 begins……with Dylan Thomas and ancient Akkadians !

I am gazing through our wide bay window towards the shadowy hills, as city lights illuminate a cold, rainy early January night.  A very bare bay window. Where have all the jewels of multi-coloured reflection gone? Back to the ‘Otherworld’, the Romantic in me thinks. Waiting, waiting for another year……

Today we took our Christmas Tree down. This day is always ‘throat-slitting day’ in the calendar of our New Year. We rarely wait for Epiphany to carry out this doleful task. After New Year’s day is over, the richly decorated, multi-coloured glowing beauty of our tree ceases to bring us comfort and magic in the heart of winter, and stands before us reproachfully (as we imagine), waiting to be dismantled, recycled. We cannot bear to prolong this post-festive inevitability. And now it’s done.

Here I stand, in the bare, empty, dusted, wiped, hoovered space left behind. What comfort is to be found in this bleak moment? My husband has the right idea.He is off to the pub with my brother – the third tree-dismemberer.

I stand, and stand, remembering the magic, remembering how we flicked some malt whisky on the fully lit and decorated tree on the night of the Winter Solstice. We do this every year too – and every year I remind my  family members present for this ritual that  this tree has a very ancient pedigree. Consider the following quote, from :

“……The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the ancient Middle Eastern practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them. Of course, these were not really Christmas trees, because Jesus was not born until centuries later, and the use of Christmas trees was not introduced for many centuries after his birth. Apparently, in Jeremiah’s time the “heathen” would cut down trees, carve or decorate them in the form of a god or goddess, and overlay it with precious metals……”

Ancient Akkadians honouring their "Tree of Life"
Ancient Akkadians honouring their “Tree of Life”



The need to bring comfort and cheer and significance to that cold dark time in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun’s warmth seems a distant longed-for memory, is a very ancient one. This thought comforts me, as it does every year. I like to feel part of the ancient river of humanity as I stand here in my 21st century bare bay window.

Dylan Thomas’ famous line from the poem “And death shall have no dominion” comes to mind:

‘Though lovers be lost, love shall not……’

This tree may have been sacrificed by us, but its spirit lives on in that bare window space, inhabiting another world, waiting to be given form yet again when the seasons turn and we feel yet again a powerful need to affirm that the life force is still with us – just gathering its strength in the dormancy of winter.


500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


10 thoughts on “The year 2011 begins……with Dylan Thomas and ancient Akkadians !

  1. As the third member of the team,i can only echo my sisters sentiments. Beautifully written as always.

    Fred the brother!

  2. This is so lovely Anne. It’s been many years since I put a Christmas tree but I can very much remember that feeling of bleakness when the tree finally came down! Like you though, I always tended to take it down as soon as possible after New Year rather than wait until Epiphany!

  3. Thanks, Leah. Perhaps I will send you a photo of ours next year – it’s an effort I couldn’t be bothered making if left to my own initiative, but my husband and sis-in-law are such Xmas lovers and enthusiasts that nothing less than a 9.5 foot multi-decorated bejewelled production satisfies them. Then, of course, I love it and mourn it……

  4. Anne, I insist the tree stay up till Epiphany, but it is now the 11th of January and it’s still up! Of course, it’s a “fake,” otherwise we’d probably be up in flames by now. For some reason, both my husband and I have had a hard time letting go of the Christmas season this year. Our tree with its ornaments full of memories brings us not only comfort, joy and warmth; it keeps aglow the feelings of generous giving that evaporate too soon with the New Year’s Eve champagne bubbles. Left up to me, I’d keep it up year-round. I am so comforted by the fact that one neighbor still has her outdoor lights up. Here’s the hint. She has three children. Perhaps we need to keep a Christmas tree alive in our hearts always for the kid in it.

    It’s so synchronistic that I landed here today, because today is throat-slitting, de-decorating, and finally getting ’round to it day.

  5. “….Perhaps we need to keep a Christmas tree alive in our hearts always for the kid in it….”

    Joyce, I love this. Thank you. And thank you for visiting. And for our synchronicity, which is always there. Today is my day for emailing you!

  6. Jan 11, by email: from Lauren

    “……your reflections, a tender reminding of time passing and the unending cycle of renewal…. so beautifully written Anne. ….your insights coupled with your poetic prose always a pleasure to read…..”

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