“Grandpa, do you have a favorite Christmas?” Grandpa begins to share his tale. “I was 1914. My mates and I had been on the battlefield fro any weeks….” John McCutcheon brings to life this fictional tale of a historical event that happened along a 400 mile stretch between the British and the Germans during Christmas.
John McCutcheon first heard of the Christmas truce in 1984. “I was so taken with the woman’s story, I wrote the entire song ‘Christmas in the Trenches’ during the intermission of my concert that night.”
This story, Christmas in the Trenches, highlights one character’s memory of a true event on Christmas Eve. The British soldiers were waiting in trenches, knowing they would not be able to be with their families. Across No Man’s Land, the Germans were waiting too. Suddenly Christmas carols could be heard. The British responded singing in their native language until both sides blended singing ‘Silent Night’.
The story continues of a conflict stopped in time, differences put aside. A soldier appears crossing the field with a candle-lit tree. The Christmas Truce began. Soldiers mingled, sharing little gifts of food and showing pictures of loved ones. For one night, the Great War was put on hold.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Christmas in the Trenches:
- a Tension Twist – “A ghostly sound cut through the cold night air.” (next page – Singing!)
- Resolution – a moment where human differences could be put on hold for a greater good
- Flashback – an important slice of life that impressed the character for life
- Character emotion – “It was so surprising and so brave I couldn’t help myself.“
- Suddenly – for tension, surprise, and closure