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  • Christmas 1914

    sepia bellThe war in Europe was only four months old, yet it had already reached a savagery unknown until that time. After the initial success of the German army, the war became a desperate trench struggle with a very high casualty count. The promise of early success seemed like a faraway dream. The snow and the cold of 1914 made things even worse, but as the darkness fell on Christmas Eve something happened that would never occur again.

    Sir Edward Hulse, a 25-year-old lieutenant, wrote in his diary about this strange occurrence.

    "A scout named F. Marker went out and met a German Patrol and was given a glass of whiskey and some cigars, and a message was sent back, saying that if we didn't fire at them they would not fire at us." That night, where the fighting only five days earlier had been fierce, suddenly just stopped.

    The following morning, Christmas day, German soldiers walked towards the British lines while the British came out to greet their enemy. They exchanged souvenirs with each other and the British gave the German soldiers plum pudding as a Christmas greeting. Soon arrangements were made to bury the dead British soldiers whose bodies were lying in no man's land. The Germans brought the bodies over and prayers were exchanged.

    The spirit of Christmas overcame the horror of war as peace broke out across the front. The Germans, who previously were viewed as demonized beasts by the British and French, almost always initiated it. This contact was followed by song. The Germans sang 'Die Wacht Am Rhein' and the British soldiers sang 'Christians Wake.' It was in many ways a miracle. Sapper J. Davey, a British soldier, wrote this in his diary. "Most peculiar Christmas I've ever spent and ever likely to. One could hardly believe the happenings." Hate, for a moment, disappeared along the Western front.

    Another British soldier, Second Lt. Dougan Chater wrote, "About 10 o'clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trenches and came towards ours. We were just going to fire on them when we saw that they had no rifles so one of our men went out to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas." This continued for nearly an hour before their superiors ordered the men back to their trenches.

    The powers to be objected to this display of humanity by the common soldier. For a brief moment, their gesture ended a war that the leaders of both sides would continue to fight for nearly four more years. Millions more would die, indeed many of the men who greeted each other would perish, but their spirits live on in history as an example to all of us. We have much more in common with each other than the differences that divide us. Peace is better than war. Understanding is more important than division. Love can overcome hate. Merry Christmas!

    Sources: The First World War, Martin Gilbert

  • man4Lonely and alone, discouraged and empty hearted
    That's when a man needs a brother

    When the burden is heavy, the load too much to bear
    That's when a man needs a brother

    When in despair, and needing someone to care
    That's when a man needs a brother

    When the strong arm on your shoulders make the tears flow free
    That's when a man needs a brother

  • *Gifts that Don't Cost a Cent*

    gift1 THE GIFT OF LISTENING - But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

    2 THE GIFT OF AFFECTION - Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

    3 THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER - Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."

    4 THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE - It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

  • ice cream2In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

    "How much is an ice cream sundae?"

    "Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

    The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it. "How much is a dish of plain ice cream?" he inquired.

    Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she said brusquely.

  • greyhoundsFather O'Shea, the parish priest in the village, was giving a sermon about charity. He said, "The trouble with the world today is that some people have too much and others have too little. We must give of ourselves and our worldly goods to help the less fortunate."

    He said to Harrigan, "If you had ten thousand pounds, wouldn't you give half of it to the poor?"

    He said, "I would that, Father."

    The priest said, "If you had two greyhounds, wouldn't you give one of them to your neighbour next door?"

    Harrigan said, "No."

    The priest said, "And why not?"

    He said, "I have two greyhounds."

  • mailbox2Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:

    Dear Ruth:

    I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I would like to visit.

    Love Always, Jesus

    Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table.

  • ancient greeceIn ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.

    One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

    "Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

    "Triple filter?"