Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
The unthinkable has become commonplace. Almost daily enemy planes fly over the wintry countryside, but the sirens remain silent or too distant to hear; no matter, there is nowhere to go for safety. Once a damaged plane totters dangerously low over the camp, releasing a few bundles that billow into parachutes with men dangling from them before it goes down, down, out of sight. No bombs fall from the sky because there are no worthwhile targets in this remote land. Now and then detonations on the ground signal the increasing activity of saboteurs.
The camp staff has contrived to make the Christmas season truly festive and harmonious. On the long winter evenings we handcraft table and tree decorations out of wood and paper, make needlework gifts for each other, while listening to stories of Christmases past and singing carols. The smell of baking wafts from the kitchen, mingling with the fumes of coal fires and wax candles. On Christmas Eve, lights-out is scheduled early for a nap before the festivities begin. Shortly before midnight, excited like children, we assemble in dress uniforms in the hall outside the common room. While we