A Christmas Eve Truce….

As Christmas stories go, the following is one of my favorites. Maybe it is because I am a Military wife, maybe it is because I served active duty myself, I can’t explain it really, but this is one of my favorite Christmas stories….

Following is a fascinating story as told by Private Frederick W. Heath and reprinted by Alan Nothnagle of how World War One stopped on Christmas Eve almost 100 years ago and there was “Peace on Earth,” at least for one night, in the trenches of France where the Germans, French, and British had been previously slaughtering one another.

That Christmas Truce

Written in the trenches by Private Frederick W. Heath

The night closed in early – the ghostly shadows that haunt the trenches came to keep us company as we stood to arms. Under a pale moon, one could just see the grave-like rise of ground which marked the German trenches two hundred yards away. Fires in the English lines had died down, and only the squelch of the sodden boots in the slushy mud, the whispered orders of the officers and the NCOs, and the moan of the wind broke the silence of the night. The soldiers’ Christmas Eve had come at last, and it was hardly the time or place to feel grateful for it.

Memory in her shrine kept us in a trance of saddened silence. Back somewhere in England, the fires were burning in cosy rooms; in fancy I heard laughter and the thousand melodies of reunion on Christmas Eve. With overcoat thick with wet mud, hands cracked and sore with the frost, I leaned against the side of the trench, and, looking through my loophole, fixed weary eyes on the German trenches. Thoughts surged madly in my mind; but they had no sequence, no cohesion. Mostly they were of home as I had known it through the years that had brought me to this. I asked myself why I was in the trenches in misery at all, when I might have been in England warm and prosperous. That involuntary question was quickly answered. For is there not a multitude of houses in England, and has not someone to keep them intact? I thought of a shattered cottage in — , and felt glad that I was in the trenches. That cottage was once somebody’s home.

Still looking and dreaming, my eyes caught a flare in the darkness. A light in the enemy’s trenches was so rare at that hour that I passed a message down the line. I had hardly spoken when light after light sprang up along the German front. Then quite near our dug-outs, so near as to make me start and clutch my rifle, I heard a voice. There was no mistaking that voice with its guttural ring. With ears strained, I listened, and then, all down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: “English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!”

Friendly invitation

Following that salute boomed the invitation from those harsh voices: “Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.” For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity – war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn – a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired, except for down on our right, where the French artillery were at work.

Came the dawn, pencilling the sky with grey and pink. Under the early light we saw our foes moving recklessly about on top of their trenches. Here, indeed, was courage; no seeking the security of the shelter but a brazen invitation to us to shoot and kill with deadly certainty. But did we shoot? Not likely! We stood up ourselves and called benisons {blessings} on the Germans. Then came the invitation to fall out of the trenches and meet half way.

Still cautious we hung back. Not so the others. They ran forward in little groups, with hands held up above their heads, asking us to do the same. Not for long could such an appeal be resisted – beside, was not the courage up to now all on one side? Jumping up onto the parapet, a few of us advanced to meet the on-coming Germans. Out went the hands and tightened in the grip of friendship. Christmas had made the bitterest foes friends.

The Gift of Gifts

Here was no desire to kill, but just the wish of a few simple soldiers (and no one is quite so simple as a soldier) that on Christmas Day, at any rate, the force of fire should cease. We gave each other cigarettes and exchanged all manner of things. We wrote our names and addresses on the field service postcards, and exchanged them for German ones. We cut the buttons off our coats and took in exchange the Imperial Arms of Germany. But the gift of gifts was Christmas pudding. The sight of it made the Germans’ eyes grow wide with hungry wonder, and at the first bite of it they were our friends for ever. Given a sufficient quantity of Christmas puddings, every German in the trenches before ours would have surrendered.

And so we stayed together for a while and talked, even though all the time there was a strained feeling of suspicion which rather spoilt this Christmas armistice. We could not help remembering that we were enemies, even though we had shaken hands. We dare not advance too near their trenches lest we saw too much, nor could the Germans come beyond the barbed wire which lay before ours. After we had chatted, we turned back to our respective trenches for breakfast.

All through the day no shot was fired, and all we did was talk to each other and make confessions which, perhaps, were truer at that curious moment than in the normal times of war. How far this unofficial truce extended along the lines I do not know, but I do know that what I have written here applies to the — on our side and the 158th German Brigade, composed of Westphalians.

As I finish this short and scrappy description of a strangely human event, we are pouring rapid fire into the German trenches, and they are returning the compliment just as fiercely. Screeching through the air above us are the shattering shells of rival batteries of artillery. So we are back once more to the ordeal of fire.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: December 21,2011

It has been a long road this past few months since our dog, Fang died.

Lots of sleepless nights….

Dak never really did understand ( still doesn’t)…

many tears shed by all 5 of us…

My husband and I wondering just how we could fix this unbearable pain….

and now…

A new beginning….

As an early Christmas gift….

2 Black Lab Puppies; Beauty (Pink ribbon) and the Beast ( Red Ribbon)

 

*Dakota meets “Beast”*

 

The house has been full of Laughter…

all 5 of us on the floor together, playing with the Puppies….

This Christmas, in the middle of all the hustle and bustle….

the stress, and the meltdowns…

Love is the greatest gift….

something Money can’t buy….

as our healing process begins and love and joy overtake sadness and grief,

we wish you and yours a blessed Holiday season.

Love Overwhelms

I read the most beautiful Post this morning, written by a fellow Blogging Momma, a letter to her precious daughter. I encourage you to go read the post in it’s entirty….

As I read it, the paragraph at the end JUMPED out at me. This is what she wrote:

“Because nothing can separate you from my love. Not silence or distance. Not stimming, flopping, bolting. Not poop art. Not floods or any form of destruction. Not aggressions and regressions. Not lost opportunities. Not stares in public. Not a million school consults and IEP meetings and therapy appointments. Not broken dreams, not heartache. Not weakness or failure. Not the present or the future. Not highs or lows. Not trouble now or ever. Nothing can take you from my great love.”

It is based on a Bible Verse that has been one of my favorites since childhood that tells us  that nothing can separate us from God’s great love for us. Not anything in this world! Not the present or the future, not angels or demons, not height nor depth, not the worst sins, not hardship, not pain, not sorrow, not even death can do it.  There was a time when I thought that things I had done, mistakes I had made meant that God didn’t love me anymore, but I have grown to realize that God loves me, even though I am broken and flawed, even though I am not perfect.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The quote above hit home for me because it put into words in such a beautiful way exactly how much I love my son, even as I am washing poop art off the walls, or when he decides to take off and wander, even as I sit through yet another IEP meeting, or when he has a meltdown in public, or when I spend days combating “He is just spoiled, High functioning autistics do not have meltdowns” or “He is ruining your life” speeches from family members. Even on days when he regresses and it seems nothing I do can draw him out , on the good days, and the worst of days, no matter how exhausted or emotionally drained I may feel, one thing remains, I Love my son.

This comparison of my love for my child to this verse of how deep God’s love is for me drove it all home for me in a powerful way. This Christmas, My gift has been an overwhelming realization of Love…God’s Love for me, My love for my husband, for my children….no matter what happens, no matter how hard things get, or how tired I feel…..Love is such a Powerful thing. Thank you Lord for reminding me….

 

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There IS Hope!

This is my son, who just happens to have autism….

because as you read I want you to SEE the HOPE

I want you to SEE that Autism is NOT the end of the world….

Hope…

It is a Powerful thing! When someone loses hope, it is dangerous. Hearing the phrase “Your child has autism” Can be a very devestating thing to a parent, it’s true. The road is hard, it is an uphill battle, this I wont deny. There is grief, anger, sadness, days I feel overwhelmed. I cry, scream “Why??” , but I cling to HOPE. NOBODY , not a Doctor, Family members, even strangers, should EVER lead a parent raising a special needs child to think there is “No hope”. Phrases like “That child will ruin your life” should NEVER EVER be uttered, and yet, they are. I know, I have heard those very words.

It is when phrases like ” That child will never do…( insert whatever)” or “That child will ruin your life” or “raising a child with autism will destroy your marriage” that steal hope. And when Hope is taken away, horrible tragedies like this happen….

On May 31st of 2010, Stephanie Rochester – according to her own report to police – placed a plastic bag over her 6 month-old son, Rylan’s head.

She told police that when the infant was still breathing some time later, she placed blankets over his face. The child was dead by morning.

According to the Colorado Daily, “During the initial investigation last summer, Rochester told detectives that she believed her baby, Rylan, was autistic, and that having an autistic child would emotionally and financially “ruin” her life.” ….

Yes, Raising a child with autism is expensive, and yes it can be emotionally draining, BUT It is also the most rewarding wonderfully beautiful journey! The first time my son said “Mommy”, at age 4…the child the Doctor told me would probably NEVER speak…that was one of the most beautiful moments, one of many I have had on this journey. Watching my child slowly come out of his “own little world” and start to discover the world around him is amazing!

We as a society have a responsibilty to STOP looking at the glass as half empty when it comes to the diagnosis of Autism. It is NOT the end of the world! There IS HOPE! We, as the Blogging Mommas of children with Autism NEED to share our stories, the good AND the bad. when we reach out, it lets others who may be just starting this journey, or who are losing hope KNOW they are NOT alone! I am thankful that even in the midst of ALL the negative voices I have swirling around me telling me “He is ruining your life” I have had  constant POSITIVE Voices combating those words that would steal hope, restoring Hope when I lose sight of it.

My Friend and fellow Blogging Momma over at Diary of a mom also touches on this in her post today, below is an excerpt from her Post.

“….We can support one another. We can show those who don’t see the beauty that accompanies the challenges that there is joy in this life. That there is sweetness and faith and celebration and grace in raising a child – or children – with autism.

We can rise above our divisions and come together as a community – a welcoming, respectful, compassionate community that promises to hold each other up through the darkest days.

We can continue to tell our stories.

… to demystify autism.

… to reclaim the word and to reveal the incredible PEOPLE behind it.

… to open the curtains and illuminate the full spectrum of people who stand behind them.

… to personalize our stories – our children’s stories.

… to make people understand that difference is not just OK, but necessary to our survival.

… to get immediate help for those who live far beyond the realm of simple ‘difference’.

… to address the greatest fears of parents – by creating a system that will not just house our children, but will CARE for them when we are gone.

… to find out why autism diagnoses continue to explode.

… to change that.

… NOW.”

Thank you Jess, and the other Blogging Mommas in my circle who help remind me when I lose hope, that it is still there, for reminding me to slow down and smell the roses, that to see the rainbows, we gotta go through the storms, and sometimes, you just gotta dance in the rain!

My youngest daughter is in the Christmas play at our church, and the song they are ending with seems to just “fit ” here, so I leave you with this ….

“So Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, go light your world
Take your candle, go light your world”

If you need support, please, please click on the links below to find local autism resource networks.

There is no more noble act than reaching out for help.

ASA Chapters by state

Autism Speaks Resources by state

Welcome to the Club