It was Christmas in 1914 during World War I.
The British and Germans had fought to something of a stalemate. It was bitterly cold on the front in Belgium where both sides were holding the line in fortified trenches in the early part of one of the worst wars in history.
And it was Christmas.
With no light to see the target the shooting stopped at night, and in the silence German voices were heard yelling across the “no man’s land” separating the lines, “Merry Christmas, Englishmen!” The British returned their greetings, yelling into the frigid night. Someone started singing Christmas carols which were joined by the opposite side.
Eventually, soldiers on both sides ventured out of their trenches – unarmed – to greet each other and exchange gifts of chocolate, cigarettes and other small extravagances that mean so much to a soldier in the field. A truce of sorts was declared, and no shots were fired during Christmas Day on this part of the line.
For that one day they were able to put aside their human-ness, and take up the image of Christ to celebrate His birth. Yet they knew as well that they would soon be obligated to try to kill each other even as they celebrated the anniversary of new life come to save us all from death.All because of Christmas.
I suppose Jesus wasn’t called “The Prince of Peace” for nothing.
The day after Christmas has always puzzled me.
We spend weeks, if not months, leading up to Christmas Day, touting it as the “happiest time of the year”. There are lights everywhere, and everyone is happy, and generous, and caring.
But then it’s over, and they aren’t anymore. The lights go out, and, seemingly, so does our joy.
The days after Christmas are a period of undefined silence in which anything can happen. We come down from that period of frenzied activity leading up to that one day with no idea what to do with our lives, but take down the decorations and throw the wrapping paper in the trash.
It’s in this period where Christ can strip us bare. We have the opportunity to acknowledge His love and beauty, or we can pick up again the mantle of our humanity and return to the savagery we seek to leave behind. This is not new; I do it every day. I give up the gifts He’s given me and return to being simply human.
I give up the better part to become the least.
I give up being more than human, and become even less.
Then He speaks, “Yesterday was my birthday, but I’m still here. Why do you celebrate only one day of my life? I am always present! I still Love you! Remember! Remember! ”
So I wish you a Merry Day After Christmas!
And a Merry Day After the Day After Christmas!
He is still here….
©Dan Bode 2017