I do love the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham - somehow you really know the festive season is here when it gets under way.
Bright lights, odd accents, glimmering sales items, curious-looking sausages, smashing beer - it is in its own way magical.
Yet, for me, it is something more. It is a kind of symbol of how far we have come in Europe and how fortunate my generation has been.
I was looking back at my grandfather's war diary on Remembrance Day.
It covers the early part of 1916. There is no colourful language, no extensive description. Many entries just say the one word "trenches".
There are happy moments - playing an impromptu French team at football during rest periods behind the lines.
It only gets close to hinting at the horrors of that terrible conflict with r emarks like "very heavy bombardment". And then it ends abruptly at the point he was gassed on the Somme. Enough to put him out for the next year-and-a-half, but not quite enough to kill him.
I have probably told this story before, but it bears repeating - how awful that should have happened, I once foolishly remarked to my mother. Don't be silly, she told me. Had he not been invalided out of the worst part of the war he would almost certainly have been killed.
Which shook me a little. He subsequently returned to that war in 1918, having been transferred to the tanks, then of course in their infancy.
But thankfully the Germans had cracked - retreating faster than our boys could catch up with them. And so, curiously, after all he had been through my grandfather apparently never fired a shot in anger in his second stint.
My father was in the Second World War in a little-known section called the Beach Group. He was present at the landings on Sicily, then Italy, and finally Normandy.
As I understand it, they would go in after the initial waves of assault troops had secured the beaches to organise them for all the men, munitions and equipment pouring through in their wake. We never as a family went on a holiday abroad - Dad had seen enough of foreign climes in Italy and Germany and never wanted to know.
Yet curiously we always bought Volkswagen cars because he admired German engineering. A former colleague and I used to argue over why there has never been another European conflagration.
The Cold War could easily have escalated into the real thing and the break-up of Yugoslavia did produce war, though it stayed localised unlike World War I which was sparked by troubles in the Balkans.
I have always maintained peace in Europe owes much to the success - and it is a success - of the European Union.
Poppycock, said my chum. It was all about atomic weapons - the fear of nuclear obliteration. Of course, he is right, but then, I believe, so am I. Forget stupid rows over straight bananas, the EU has indeed preserved peace and a lot more - promoted trade and rapprochement.
When you see the Frankfurt market candles sparkling, spare a moment to reflect.