In these trying times, with American soldiers once again in harm’s way and warfare and fighting happening in too many parts of the world, I wish that the spirit of Christmas, as exhibited in 1914, would spread over the entire world. I find this story comforting, as it reveals that behind all the politics, we’re all just regular people, with normal hopes and fears. Being mad at your neighbors is personal; war is almost always impersonal, and initiated by politicians who won’t actually suffer one iota of loss.
In 1914, in the trenches where World War One was fought, a strange thing occurred on Chrismas Eve, something that is both touching and continues to give me hope:
. . . the Germans set trees on trench parapets and lit the candles. Then, they began singing carols, and though their language was unfamiliar to their enemies, the tunes were not. After a few trees were shot at, the British became more curious than belligerent and crawled forward to watch and listen. And after a while, they began to sing.
By Christmas morning, the “no man’s land” between the trenches was filled with fraternizing soldiers, sharing rations and gifts, singing and (more solemnly) burying their dead between the lines. Soon they were even playing soccer, mostly with improvised balls.
Snopes has more information about the Christmas Eve truce; my Christmas wish? Peace on Earth.