World War I was a very long time ago, and a lot has happened since the "war to end all wars", but on this Christmas Day I'd like to recall a singular event that took place on the Western Front on Christmas 1914.
The story has all the trappings of an Urban Legend -- and in fact it was on the Snopes website where I was once again reminded of it -- but it's true, and the following comes from a book by Stanley Weintraub called Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce:
[T]he 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.The First World War website also carries a lengthy account of the Christmas Truce.
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.
According to the official war diary of the 133rd Saxon Regiment, "Tommy and Fritz" kicked about a real football supplied by a Scot. "This developed into a regulation football match with caps casually laid out as goals. The frozen ground was no great matter ... The game ended 3-2 for Fritz."
This story should give us all hope that we can somehow muddle our way through the crap we're going through, and emerge on the other side in a better world.