Category Archives: Christmas

Unwelcome tristesse

There’s something about the first days and weeks of January that always throws me. The festivities of December past are exactly that, yet (in Berlin at least) the pavements are heavy with their reminder in the shape of discarded Christmas trees. Some 400,000 of them. 400,000! Which makes them equal in number to the entire tree stock of the city. I happen to know that, not because I am a wealth of random facts, but because I recently wrote a column for DW on the subject of Berliners and their trees.

To return to the Tannenbäume, as they are known locally. They will, in the shortness of time, be collected up and taken either to the city’s zoos where they serve as elephant breakfast or to cialis online a power station where recycled, they should provide 700 households with electricity and warm water for the next 12 months.

But until the trucks come to take them their respective ways, the trees lie on top of each other looking bare and so very sad. It is a sadness that all too often seems to be reflected in the faces of people out and about. It is as if the vibrancy of their excited wishes and hopes for the New Year, many expressed beside those now unwanted trees, have been packed away with the tinsel and baubles.

A couple of days ago, I wished someone a happy New Year, and his response was to look at me aghast. “New Year?” We were not two weeks into it at the time of the exchange, but already my words, the very sentiment, seemed – even sounded – outdated. The newness already forgotten as the grind of daily life reasserts itself as the matriarch and patriarch of society.

I have decided, as my grandfather might have flippantly said, to opt out. I plan to reign supreme over my 2013. To treat every day as if it were something new. Which of course, it is.

Category: Berlin, Christmas, Seasons | Tags: , ,


There is so much that could be said about Christmas, about its meaning – lost for some, found for others – about its power to stir feelings of warmth and loneliness in equal measure, and about it being a time to give thanks, about it being a time for children, and about it being a state as much as a time of year. The following  quotes reflect some of my own thoughts.

“I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round… as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”  Bob Hope

“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” Washington Irving

A happy Christmas to you!