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A Story Of Hope

November 17, 2014 3 comments

I want you to watch an ad. Though they are selling something, I want you to concentrate on the story. Whether you believe in God or not, you must admit this experience, however brief it was, is a true statement of what Christianity is. It was Jesus that brought these people together even if many did not know it or believe.

The year is 1914 and The Great War was beginning to shape Europe and the world. Arrogance of nobility and political leaders brought forth two opposing side to murder each other. The month was December and the two sides were basically at a stalemate. A war of attrition had begun as stated by Private R. Fleming, “It is not war this. It is who can kill the most in the shortest possible time”.[1]

The lines between the two sides were at time only yards apart. Close enough for the two sides to yell at each other with black humour. Examples of this were soldiers yelling out “missed” if a bullet was off the mark.

In December, the weather was rather wet. Christmas was approaching. Pope Benedict XIV would suggest a temporary halt in the fighting for the celebration of Christmas. The leadership of the warring factions would not take up the pope’s suggestion for a cease-fire. It just so happened on December 24, Christmas Eve, the weather was cold enough to allow for a frost to cover the landscape thus providing a white Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the Germans began to sing Christmas carols and placed Christmas trees lit with lanterns above their trenches. The Germans celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas day. On some areas of the line, the British returned the German carols with their own carols. The two sides were serenading each other. There were even brass bands accompanying the carols.

On Christmas Day, some Germans left their trenches and entered the no-mans land to say “Merry Christmas.” On other areas, British soldiers yelled, “Good morning Fritz,” and offered the Germans cigarettes. The Allies soon left their trenches to meet their fellow humans in the middle of no-mans land to greet each other with laughter and shaking of hands. More songs were sung, gifts exchanges, pudding shared and even a game of soccer (football) played. You could hear Silent Night (Stille Nacht), O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Nowell, Old Folks at Home, Auld Lang Syne, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks and O Tannenbaum along the lines. The men exchanged jokes, souvenirs and even prayers.

Sadly, the truce was not to last. The only sane idea of the war was erased by the desire to murder for no good reason.

I know this is very early for Christmas. My reason for posting this so soon is to give anyone the opportunity to do some research and talk about it during the Christmas season. This is one story worth repeating.

Here is the link I think would be nice to watch. Watch and enjoy it for the historical reference. (In case the link isn’t working: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWF2JBb1bvM)

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Categories: Christmas, History Tags: ,

White Christmas

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…”  Yes, we had a white Christmas.  The couple from Texas are enjoying their white Christmas with their  family while others are not so happy.  For us it is great.  Skiing is coming up and we need the snow.

Waking up to Christmas is very Currier and Ives, thus Christmas.  In other words, our Christmas setting is not complete unless there is white.  Oh, I need to throw in a fire except this year it was in the low 40’s.  Yes, a white Christmas is a great mood setter.

Today, the day after Christmas, we have a lot of snow coming down.  This means we are staying put, and I’ll be clearing a looong driveway.  This is one of the downsides to the snow.  As I watch it come down, I know I’ll soon be outside.  There is the Ying and Yang, taking the good with the bad.  My only good choice is to accept it and do my duty.  The bonus is coming in the house to a toasty fire!

While I enjoy the outdoors, Youth 1 unhappily works on school.  There is a ying and yang for this youth – clearing the driveway!  I didn’t forget Youth 2.  Youth 2 will be outside with a shovel when I finally embark on my wintery job.

Categories: Christmas Tags: ,

True Christmas

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Since the birth of our children, I have preferred to stay home for Christmas.  My children have appreciated this for years.  Our parents have visited for Christmas from time to time, but not so in recent years.  We even have had neighbors come over for dinner in the past.  All of these visitors make for an enjoyable Christmas but a tiring Christmas as well.

In recent years I’ve tried to gently discourage company with the exception of our parents in order to provide more relaxation.  It is very tiring cleaning up at eleven in the evening on Christmas day after you have spent the entire day preparing to entertain and then entertaining.  Indeed Christmas was becoming less of the spirit and more of an annoyance.  To be up for over eighteen straight hours is too much.  Most company that visits do not help in the preparation of meals or cleaning up.  I took it upon myself to provide a relief during this time.  This has change this Christmas.

A neighbor of mine was going to be alone for Christmas.  To me, Christmas is about celebration.  I invited the neighbor over for dinner.  Our neighbor spent the evening enjoying not only the meal but our company.  We too enjoyed our neighbor’s company.  For the first time in a few years, Christmas was true.  We did this out of kindness, and the neighbor appreciated our offer.  Yes, it was a late night but well worth it.  Someone spent Christmas with “family” instead of being alone.

Categories: Christmas Tags:

Christmas Tradition

December 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Christmas is a exciting and enjoyable time of the year.  All anxiety and stress are from unrealistic expectations and unnecessary celebrations.  Every year our tradition starts during Thanksgiving with the visiting my in-laws.  It will end in January.  The primary function of Christmas is Jesus Christ.  There is a reason it is called Christ’s Mass.  All of the other aspects of Christmas are a celebration of this mass.

The day after Thanksgiving is the baking of Christmas cookies.  Most of the cookies are made here and the rest whenever there is time.  The Sunday following Thanksgiving or the first Sunday of Advent is when the Christmas tree goes up.  Decorations are brought out as well.  The trains are placed under the tree.  Yeah, the trains are a second generation thing.  The tradition continues with visiting both sets of in-laws.  There is mass, gifts, visiting and then taking down the decorations in January.  This is general list of traditions that most families follow to some degree.  It is the detailed traditions that are the most interesting.

We place candy canes on our tree.  When children visit, they are able to select one or two to eat.  A tiny tidbit to this candy cane tradition is the tree squirrel we apparently have.  I always find a stash of candy canes inside the tree.  They seem to be the popular flavours, too!  We keep our cookies in the freezer and somehow by Christmas Eve, a cellar dweller has consumed a few of these cookies.  Now mind you, I do not like molasses cookies.  I am not admitting guilt.  There are other creatures that could be involved.  Hiding gifts is another tradition.  It is my job to hide gifts in our closet.  Now figure how to hide a 2’x1’x3′ item or of similar size in a 5′ x 10′ room.  We have successfully done this for a number of years.  This is where the parenting radar is most useful.  Wrapping these gifts is the next task on the tradition.  It has fallen to me for I do enjoy wrapping them.  This requires my sitting in a cold room wrapping items.  I am very sure Youth 1 and Youth 2 have no idea why the bedroom door is locked and the closet door is closed with me in there.  To obtain these items, the Educator and I must travel to the stores.  This is more fun than you would think.  Since the two youths are old enough to stay home alone and fight, the Educator and I have a date night.  Okay, it isn’t an ideal date, but we do enjoy spending time together along with a simple meal.  This year it was Panera Bread and Chick Fil A.  No, not fancy, but it wasn’t McDonalds, and I do like the chicken sandwich as well as the broccoli and cheese soup.  Christmas Eve  is a day of preparation.  We are preparing the evening’s meal and for Christmas Vigil.  For some reason, what normally takes an hour and a half on Sundays take three or four hours on Christmas Eve.  The begging to open a single gifts is next.  This year we will actually do one gift.  A Christmas Carol is better on the Eve.  Christmas Eve has me either staying up late finishing on the wrapping or waiting for two kids to fall asleep.  No longer do I go outside and ring a sleigh bell.  That was really fun when I had to race inside to beat my children running downstairs to tell us they hear bells.  I now have to quietly transfer the gifts to underneath the tree.  No longer do I place a gift or two in the fire place with a log out of place.  It is amazing how loud wrapping paper can be at 1 a.m.  The next part of this tradition is Youth 1 waking up at 2, 2:15, 2:30, 2:45 and so on to go to the bottom of the steps and look at the tree with the presents.  Yes, at 5 a.m. we are visited with the Educator saying come back at 7:30 or else we don’t open until noon.  I am more sympathetic.  I can sleep on the couch.  Youth 1 mills around the bedroom making noise while I try to sleep.  At six or 6:30, I get up and go down stairs and turn on the tree.  All of this time Youth 2 is out.  Youth 1 has the Christmas spirit.  Finally, I cave and tell the Educator to get up.

This is just a sample of our Christmas Tradition.  It doesn’t matter that we do not find all of the gifts or the main gift.  What is enjoyable is spending time with the family and having a chuckle.  When that tree squirrel leaves, Christmas at home will lessen but the reason will not.

Categories: Christmas, Family Life Tags:

A Christmas Carol

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

A Christmas Carol was written in 1843 by Charles Dickens. This book would be very popular during the holiday season in 1843 and eight stage adaptations would be constructed within two months of book’s publication. Dickens would go from struggling at his newspaper job to international fame. This story was a pulpit for Dickens’ views on the industrial revolution and the pursuit of profit. The story also brought back nearly forgotten Christmas celebrations, thanks to Cromwell, such as kissing under the mistletoe and caroling.

A Christmas Carol has evolved in the 169 years since the first publication. Mr. Dickens may even be a culprit to this evolution. His public readings were abridged forms of the story where he would edit out sections of the story that provided detail or clear understanding. There seems to be a darker viewpoint in his telling while the lighter aspects were omitted. The arts took the next step in modifying the story. Funny how these people like to add their interpretations as if it improves the story. Sort of like people improving upon Jesus’ teachings. Time also moved the evolution of the story away from the original format. No longer do people understand the terminology or devices used in the early 19th century. Only the last ten to fifteen years do we get attempts to help us not only understand what is going on but also keeping true to the story when being retold.

A Christmas Carol is a story for not only Christians but for all people. Mr. Dickens knowingly wrote the story without including Jesus or any religious symbol. The most you will notice is Christian and reference to the birth of Jesus without the named mentioned. His belief was for all of mankind to take this one day and help others; he may have wanted us to expand it to the other days of the year as well. I’ll go even further to state he wrote this story as a statement against his government, industry and the wealthy. He does not criticize wealth or having wealth, only ignoring the poor and destitute. His personal lifestyle after this story displays this for he does make use of his new found wealth. He is trying to get us to accept our responsibility towards other humans and not rely on flawed governments. During his life, the governments method of helping the poor was atrocious and the sanitary conditions horrendous. Also, you can look at this story as Dickens’ longing for the fun of Christmas once more.

A Christmas Carol shares many metaphors that may not have been intended by Charles Dickens. Scrooge is a lovely metaphor for the Cromwellian mindset of the British and American public at the time the book was written. Another representation is more modern. Scrooge also represents the Christians that place a morose mood on the holiday of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. These Christians puritanize the holiday in the disguise of worship for they forget you need not touch Jesus to receive his blessing. Christmas is a celebration of a birth and should be a festive occasion. As I know the answer to who is Scrooge, I leave it to the reader to determine if they are Scrooge. Jacob Marley covers those that do not believe in the birth of Jesus. They are to be forever tormented. There are additional metaphors such as Bob Cratchit being the devout Christian or the three ghosts as the trinity, but I leave that to another discussion. Yes, many interpretations can be drawn from this story.

A Christmas Carol brought about an interesting discussion today.  A fellow co-worker is a fan of the movies.  Our discussion involved around the movies for the most part since he had never read the book.  We both agree the book / movie holds more value if you were from that time period.  An example of this is our talking about Scrooge and the candle in his house.  If you think about how dark it would be with only a candle in a cold house.  If you can understand the period with which this story was written, you would get the full effect of the story.  It is nice to find this former church organist is an fan of A Christmas Carol.