One of the songs you’re more than likely to hear squashed somewhere between Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and Tom Petty’s ‘Christmas All Over Again’ – all over again – today, tomorrow and throughout the remaining Christmas holiday, should you celebrate it or otherwise find yourself forced to endure it, is this one – from Paul McCartney:
As much as the festive charm that oozes out of Little Saint Nick, Pretty Paper, Mistletoe and Wine is a major part of whatever Christmas is these days, and as much as I enjoy it, you can always rely on a Beatle to give us something more profound. In this case, paraphrasing the Nobel laureate poet (playwright, philosopher, painter…) Rabindranath Tagore*:
“In love, our problems disappear.”
Isn’t that lovely? All you need is love, and all that.
The song’s video recreates the celebrated truce during the Great War, where hundreds, if not thousands, of men on the Front Line briefly ignored their non-negotiable duties to nations, royalty and flags and agreed to a ceasefire on Christmas Day, 1914. (You might care to read some of the letters from British soldiers which have been painstakingly transcribed by volunteers to get a sense of just how extraordinary this day must have been to those involved.) After exchanging modest gifts and singing songs, retrieving casualties for burial with assistance from those responsible for their deaths, some even played football in the barren landscape of No Man’s Land. When you consider the horrors of this most hellish war, that such compassion could be shown is remarkable.
And I’m sure you’ll agree that the song itself makes up for ‘Wonderful Christmastime’, with its horrible synthesiser and tedious ding-dongs.
Anyway, I leave you for the final time in 2011 taking, I hope, encouragement and inspiration from events of almost a century ago. For if battle-weary men given such great responsibility, sent to a most unforgiving environment to kill or to be killed can show love for their enemy, why can’t we all make an effort to be nicer to everyone around us? Maybe many of our problems really would disappear if we tried.
Thank you so much for another year of good company and conversation, for your patience and your humour. Have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and, especially if 2011 hasn’t been the easiest, may all of life’s contradictions dissolve in 2012.
*Another of Rabindranath Tagore’s great many spiritual insights, and one I particularly like: “Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”