I heard an interesting story in my car while listening to the Manheim Steamroller Christmas special on National Public Radio and driving to my parents for the holidays. It was a remarkable Christmas sotry that I’d never herad before. The Christmas Truce of World War I in 1914, when both German and British soldiers laid down their weapons and refused to fight for a full twenty-four hours in observance of Christmas.
Both sides were fighting from their six foot deep mud filled trenches on the western front in Ypres Belgium. It was bitter cold and the freezing conditions alone could have caused many men to lose their lives. The British noticed small pine trees popping up above the trenches along the German lines. The Germans were decorating their trenches for Christmas, with tiny trees and candles. Makeshift signs soon appeared that read in crude English, “you no fight, we no fight.” The British troops responded in kind with their own signs that read a similar message in German. An unspoken truce broke out despite orders from commanding officers to keep fighting. The truce continued for an entire 24 hours during Christmas Day. During this time soldiers crossed enemy lines and assisted each other with burying the dead and arranging a funeral service lead by the British Chaplain.
Along with funeral services, the German and British troops sang Christmas carols and exchanged small presents such as tobacco, chocolate and cognac. Though there was no official truce, around 100,000 British and German troops were “unofficially,” involved in the ceasefire. Instead of aiming at each other, the troops pointed their guns skyward and wasted rounds of ammunition firing at the stars.
It seems like every year when Christmas rolls around, instead of being excited I’m full of dread. Mostly because it’s the time of year when I’m most reminded of how broke I always am. I always have big ideas about what I want to get everyone, it’s just my budget is never enough to help these ideas come to fruition. I think many people can identify with this feeling. When I was younger and my dad was such a grouch about Christmas I never understood it, but now I’m sad to say I do.
It’s hard for me to think of presents when I haven’t had a paycheck in three months and my bills are all backed up. I can’t get in the holiday spirit if I’m worried about my late car payments. But one lady earlier in the week simply said “merry christmas” to me with such gratitude in her voice that I felt a little twinge in my cold shrunken Grinch heart. Also, she had just told me she sleeps in her car so that kind of put things in perspective for me. Living in a too cold, delapidated apartment with a rodent living under the stove, is at least better than living in a car.
There have been other small kindnesses that people have done for me lately which have helped to bring me around. I came in to work one day last week to see a blue stocking taped to the wall above my desk and it contained some Christmas socks! I left the stocking at work since that is where I need the most cheer and to my surprise a pair of gloves appeared inside the stocking the following week.
The mint flavored Hershey’ kisses I found sitting by my keyboard and the Christmas card I received in the mail also made me smile. I began to realize that everyone around me is having a hard time this year but what really matters is how you choose to deal with it. Christmas is coming next week no matter how much I wish I still had another month; I can either be grumpy about it or do the best I can with what I have.
Salvaged the closet Christmas Tree and gave it to someone needed the cheer more than me.
A little holiday spirit for the office.