At Christmas 1914, four months into World War One, British and German soldiers on the Western front laid down their weapons. They exchanged small gifts, sang carols, buried their dead, and some even kicked a football around.
'Panic Saturday' is behind us. But the panic does not seem to have diminished greatly. The compulsion to buy and the strain of doing so is on almost every tongue. Like many Quakers, I don't give presents. This makes Christmas both easier and more demanding.
When my twin sister and I were very sick with the measles, aged six, it didn’t even occur to me that a home visit from the doctor was anything less than our due. I bet it occurred to my parents though. Having grown up in a world without the NHS, I bet they were grateful that they didn’t have to think about how to pay the doctor for his trouble, or for the medicines he left that helped relieve our symptoms and reduce the fever that was undoubtedly causing them concern.