However the generals were not listened to and on sundown of Christmas Eve the firing stopped, troops on both sides came out of their trenches, they sang carols, exchanged gifts. On Christmas they played soccer together and had a meal together. As evening fell they embraced one another and said goodbye. Christmas was over. The next day was war as usual. A young British soldier wrote home that the Germans were jolly good fellows. Both sides have started firing; it seems strange, doesn't it".
What is strange is that Christmas brought out the common humanity of those who were enemies. What does this say about us? Are we permanently estranged from one another by fear and selfishness? Is there just this one day a year that we can rise above our human instincts? Or did God create us in solidarity, and we are we all interdependent on one another and share a communion of brotherhood? Was the Christmas miracle of 1914 an aberration or was it the realization of who we really are and the rest of year we live a lie of anger and violence? Is Christmas the one day we wake up to the truth of who we are?
One more story. It came to pass that a family sat down to Christmas dinner. It was a tradition that each member of the family was invited to say a short prayer before the feast. It came to the youngest, a five year old. He began by thanking the turkey which he knew was going to be good, even though he had not tasted it. Then he thanked his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying it, and then began a chain of "thank yous" which recognized hidden benefactors. The check out lady at Kroger, and all the farmers who raised the turkey, the people who make turkey feed, and those truck drivers who bring them to the store. Like detective Columbo he traced the path of the turkey to his plate. After this litany went on for a while, the five year old asked, "Did I miss anyone?" His older brother said "God"; I was just getting to him said the five year old.
We sample all the goods of this world, all year long, and yet buried beneath all the things we enjoy and sample, there is a deeper restlessness and yearning which they do not satisfy. We have deeper hungers and thirsts which this feast of love and light seem to touch in us. What else draws us all here on this feast? We try it all, and still there is something about us and in us that cannot be exhausted by the recurrent patterns of physical existence. God is at the bottom of it all and as we search the world for we know not what, and like the five year old, we say at least this one a time a year, "I was getting around to him." To no one in particular, we say out loud, "Why am I not happier with all this stuff"? And we are drawn to the manger, to the crib of him who feeds our souls.