Contrary to popular belief,Christmas is not one day a year. It has Christian origin, but the love behind Christmas is not exclusive to one religion.

Likewise, people exhibit what they call their “Christmas spirit.” In my lifetime, I have encountered Jews, Christians and Muslims who all hold this essence we know as “Christmas spirit.” But what is it? Christmas spirit is not a drive that makes people go and buy gifts on Black Friday.

Christmas spirit is not stuffing yourself with a feast, nor is it getting drunk on New Year’s Eve. I have learned that true Christmas Spirit lives within our souls and exists in people of all faiths. Some of you would say that, in order to have a Christmas spirit, you would at least need to have material support — such as a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, gifts, etc. Well I say that one can have Christmas spirit without these things. One can even have Christmas spirit in their heart in the absence of family and friends. In fact, Christmas spirit at one time lived in the most unusual places: war zones and battlegrounds. As we begin the holiday season, let us remember the famous World War I truce of 1914.

For half a year, this awful war devastated Europe. Soldiers of opposing nations found themselves in deep ground trenches, exhausted in the ground from head to toe.

Trench warfare required them to stay within the grounds, for if they dared to surface onto “no man’s land,” they would be shot at by eager snipers. Yet, on that night of Christmas Eve 1914, in freezing cold weather, the war had also been frozen, and an unexpected truce emerged.

In the early hours of Christmas morning, the allies heard some familiar Christmas music being played. To their surprise, it was not coming from their own trench, but from the German trenches across. The edgy allies peeked their heads above the trench and, to their surprise, found across the battle ground their German counterparts putting up Christmas trees. They listened as the Germans sang “Silent Night.” The allies paused in astonishment for a moment, but then began to applaud their singing.

It is said that the Germans called out to the allies to come over, and the response was “you first!” It was still a war, and both sides were nervous. However, after a meeting between the twocommanding officers, both sides walked out over “no man’s land” to greet each other. In minutes, sworn enemies were communicating with each other and even exchanging gifts of food, cigarettes and clothing. Christmas spirit had triumphed and stopped a war in its tracks.

Sadly, the time came for the soldiers to return to their trenches, and probably with regret, they had to pick up their weapons and go back to battle the next day. Although the war raged on until 1918, I think there is something that this point of light in a world of darkness can teach us.

This is what Christmas spirit is: hope. It was this Christmas spirit that was still able to reach

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