During a far from silent night, the battlefield somewhere along the endless trenches of World War I was about the last place you’d expect to find peace on earth or good will toward men all those Christmas Eves ago.
As far as folks looking for a miracle, however, it probably had more people per foot there than just about anywhere.
The wish was all the same: “Please, Lord, help me make it through this night,” said, thought or prayed in a variety of languages.
The big guns raged for awhile and then, in the frosty dark of night, no-man’s land fell into one of those expectant hushes as two sides waited to see who would make the charge, who would face the withering fire, who might die and who might live.
What they weren’t expecting was a Christmas carol, “Silent Night,” to be exact, to echo across that killing field of barbed wire, craters and lost souls.
No one’s really sure who the first man was that night. We Americans say it was one of ours. The Brits say a Tommy was responsible and the Germans say it was one of theirs with the courage enough to try. Others say it never really happened, the academic equivalent of a “Bah Humbug!” for sure.
Anyway, the story goes that first one voice, then another, and another still took up the song, men coming out of the trenches to stand and sing – just sing.
It was the first peaceful night far too many of these men had known in far too long.
With the song, came a peace no one had ordered, a peace that lasted through the next day on that one little point in a very big war.
Not a big miracle in the grand scheme of things, but then Christmas used to be about the little ones anyway. One family. One child. George Bailey seeing just how wonderful his life truly was.
Hopefully today you’re not alone, whether it’s family, a friend or even just your pet there for company.
It doesn’t matter whether there are presents or not, often the best gifts don’t come in boxes or, heaven forbid, gift cards.
There was a point in time where an orange or a few walnuts were considered a thoughtful gift. We didn’t used to demand bells, whistles and electronic chirps with each Christmas gift.
Lots of people used to make the presents they exchanged rather than just a few.
For some, it was just a time to share a special meal, no matter how simple the fare.
We used to sit around tables and talk to one another too. Talk, not text. It was a time when not looking at the people you were spending time with would have been considered rude.
We’ve lost so much of that now and all we can do is hope enough of us walk into walls while texting to finally pull our noses out of those little mini-computers we call phones.
Now that would be a miracle wouldn’t it?
Anything is possible, it’s Christmas.
– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.