Happiest and Saddest Christmas – December 1918

To millions of human beings, this will be the happiest Christmas and New Year of their experience, and to at least as many millions, it will be the saddest.

In our own country, the homes whose fathers and sons are now safe from the immediate danger of violent death, and who are freed from bestial and insufferable conditions of daily living are balanced by the innumerable other homes whose most dearly beloved lie in those strange cities of the dead whose tenants were drawn from the most remote corners of the earth by the combined influence of mysterious powers of evil and of chivalry, to lay their bodies in foreign soil.

Many desolate homes will feel their bereavement most acutely when they see the rejoicing of others more fortunate. Perhaps more sad are the households whose boy is mutilated beyond repair and whose death would be preferable.

It is all over and the world may rejoice, but the uppermost feeling with these afflicted ones may well be —Why should it have been? Why should we have had to suffer so? Let us hope that a generation hence our war-madness may seem as strange and obsolete as duelling does to us now.

Although every fireside in Britain could rejoice, it would still be the very saddest Christmas to millions. In the devastated regions of our Allies, how many there will be who will search in vain for wife, or child, or husband! Or, having found them, have yet lost home and all earthly possessions.

The misery of defeat we have been mercifully spared. It is impossible for us, even to guess at it. Humiliation, revolution, fear of starvation, terror of the unknown future — these are what our late enemy has to sup upon at the great Festival.

Half of Europe in revolution and threatened with want is a grizly phantom at our feast. It must have and ought to have, a sobering effect upon our rejoicing. We cannot put it away from us, or it will return and take the very bread out of our mouths. So let us rejoice soberly and pityingly, remembering the sadness of this Christmas to millions of our fellows.

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3 Responses to Happiest and Saddest Christmas – December 1918

  1. David Sarro says:


    Gretchen’s article is remarkable for its prescience. She’s undoubtedly relieved the war has ended, yet she’s troubled by a sense of foreboding that Germany will again rise to arms: “Let us hope that a generation hence our war-madness may seem as strange and obsolete as dueling does to us now..” She then suggests that the oppressive war reparations demanded by the Allies could be a cause of Germany’s future belligerency: “Half of Europe in revolution AND THREATENED WITH WANT is a grisly phantom at our feast” (emphasis mine).

    Gretchen was indeed a farsighted and brilliant woman.

    David Sarro

  2. dacj40 says:

    Thanks for the comment Dave. Obviously I agree with everything you say 🙂

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