Christmas Relief



I was going to write something long an interesting and historical, but instead I’m posting up some random musings about Christmas and the way the past keeps coming back to put the present into perspective. The last couple of weeks I’ve been wonderinG what Christmas means to me, as a a non-religious, non-childrearing writer.

It’s not the gifts. In fact, finding gifts is an agony of rushed running around and guilt. My partner and me are an instant gratification couple. Either of us want something, we get it. Leaving an empty wish list. And the last thing we need is more tat (I say that after having recently moved house).

I guess it’s the holiday. The free time. The unplanned stretch of no-man’s-land going from Christmas to January 4. Nobody’s making any demands, no family to visit, no travel arrangements. Just empty time.
I could edit a novel in that time, or start another one.

It’s a change of pace from my frantic job in business media. No deadline, no demands from the sales team, no PR person calling me whether I got their press release, want to interview their client, want to come to a press party… or whatever else. No frantic chasing of events a day after they happened. Almost two weeks of nothing.

Is that prosaic? Christmas is about paid holidays? I don’t think so. What resonates here with me is the famous story of Christmas in the trenches in 1914. We all know the story – four months into the way, both sides are suffering from cold, mutual shelling. Then the Germans are beginning to sing Christmas carols. The Brits join. They sing, they meet, shake hands.

Here’s an eye witness account:

A break to sing and shake hands – beyond all the so-called ‘Christian’ trappings, much of which are pagan, beyond the gift-giving, family demands and the need to make everything “perfect” – does recharge the soul. We find a moment to pause. To rest. To think and anticipate the next year. What have I achieved? Is that what I wanted? What do I want to do with the next year?

Not prosaic at all. When else do we really pause like that and are being human?

Merry Reborn Sun Day.

Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London where he makes his living as a financial journalist, freelance editor, and creative writing teacher. He has published five novels and many short stories in his native language. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.

Visit Aleksandr’s web site at and his blog at

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9.  Where was it always winter and never Christmas?

14 Responses

  1. A thought provoking post. For me, living far further south than I ever expected to end up, Christmas is all about family and traditions. I’ll mark the shortest night on my own then drive up to Derbyshire on the 24th to arrive in time for carols around the village green. Then there are all the other family and village traditions until I drive home again the day after Boxing Day.

  2. Thank you Aleks, that was a very touching and thought-provoking post. So many of us non-Christians (myself included) follow the Christmas pattern because we were raised with it or its what everyone does. But I really like your perspective. I think it gives everyone something to think about.

  3. this was very interesting and gave me some thoughts which actually are not really too far away from my own .. sometimes..
    thank you.

  4. Thanks for pointing out the Christmas in trenches. It’s fascinating and heartwarming. I wish a similar occurrence could happen at my workplace, lol.

    Merry Christmas Aleksandr!

  5. Well, I just read The Lion of Kent and it’s brilliant, the winner of the copy Aleks is giving away will be a lucky person indeed. Highly recommended.

  6. Being in close sympathy with all you have said, I find myself nevertheless wishing you (and all of us) a Merry Christmas, Aleksandr. A degree of sentimentality wins out on this one.

    Yet those of us who live in the southern hemisphere can often find it difficult to ‘feel Chrismassy’ amid our sun, surf, & bushfire-prone steamy summers.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I really liked the link about the 1914 Christmas. I’d never read about that before.

  8. I really like the ‘time to think’ aspect of this time of year. Too easy to get bogged down in buying and faffing about. (Don’t get me started on the media pressure to have a ‘perfect Christmas’.)

    Wishing you the best for the holidays.


  9. What they all said. The WWI story is coincidental; I have a friend who recently became fascinated with the way that war changed the western world culturally, and I think your story is such a lovely, poignant reminder of the spirit of humanity that binds us all. That, I think, is the nature of – not necessarily Christmas but of shared ritual and the honoring of the time of year – or of the shared acknowledgment of things that are bigger than us individually?

    Anyway – lovely post!

  10. Space to be able to think about the past year!
    And I like to celebrate the Sun’s defeat of the dark!
    I’ve always liked the armistice story. It makes me think of something Christopher Isherwood said about when explaining his pacifism what if some other Hans (his then love) were on the other end of the rifle.

  11. I like this post very much. This year I’m making a greater effort to try and recapture some of the old fun and cheer of the holidays — it does seem to dissolve in the wake of adulthood’s Things to Do.

    I’ve found in recent years almost a dread of…feeling too much this time of year. Memories colliding with dreams.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  12. I could definitely do with some Christmas relief this year too. To me it’s still a holy time, but that fits in with what you’re saying, because it’s holy in the sense of ‘set apart’ from normal life, and sometimes a change is as good as a rest 🙂

  13. Do you know the song “Christmas in the Trenches”, which commemorates that long-ago time of common humanity in the midst of war? I listen to it every year.

    BTW, don’t give me the book, as I bought it a while back. Cool to see you here, though!

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