Here are two true stories which portray, far more than frenzied gift buying or ritual sentimentality, the selfless, human meaning of this season. Each is understated, and genuine, and touches the heart.
The first story is celebrated in a ballad written and performed by John McCutcheon. It tells the story of a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce that took place 97 years ago today, during which German, British and French troops found respite from the cold, muddy, bloody trench warfare of World War I. How? By discovering their common humanity. The event was reenacted in the 2005 film Joyeux Noel. I was first introduced to the song nearly 20 years ago, by my good friend Dale Evarts, and it brought tears to my eyes. It still does.
The second story is told in a video showing "one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful" animal rescues ever filmed. The small dog in the video is clearly lost, terrified, starving, and probably abused ~ yet the gentle persistence of the rescuer eventually saves her from a grim fate. More tears of devastation and joy.
The common theme is clear ~ by reaching outside our lives, our assumptions, even our hatreds, we transcend circumstance and in doing so, become more sublime, more caring, more truly human.