Elephants have the reputation of never forgetting anything, of having incredible memories. They remember places, migratory patterns, voice differences. They can recognize their own reflection, and some evidence even shows they can hold a grudge! They help each other in times of need and appear to mourn the death of friends and family… just like humans. *
Christmastime, for me anyway, is a time when a LOT of memories swirl around my brain. Christmases past — as a child growing up and then later with our own children — evoke a treasure trove of memories. The music of Christmas adds to my nostalgic frame of mind with songs like “I’ll be home for Christmas,” “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” “Tennessee Christmas,” and more.
I was challenged last week when I read…
For better or worse, Christmas is a time filled with memories — good or bad.
from Providence Bible Church, Denver, CO: “O Come Let Us Adore Him” Advent Devotional, 2020
SO very true, especially as those devotional thoughts were written for December 18th… the same day that my older brother died five years ago.
Memories from that Christmas — the Christmas that was eclipsed with funeral arrangements and other surreal, unplanned memories — are now indelibly imprinted on my heart and mind.
The author of the devotional went on to ask some poignant questions when reflecting on memories:
- Over the years, how have you seen God’s hand on your life, your family, your community?
- If you find yourself in a season of difficulty, how does the past faithfulness of God strengthen you today?
- If you find yourself in a time of ease now, how could you encourage others facing difficulty?
As I reflect on that gut-wrenching time when a memory I didn’t want was worming its way into my core, I must admit that over and over again our family saw God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His love being displayed — yes, in the midst of our heartache and grief.
Hmm… why bring up this kind of memory at this time of year?
Because of the reality that for some, this is a difficult season. It’s not all “ho-ho-ho Merry Christmas” jolly. It can be a season filled with heartache, loneliness, confusion, anguish. Which, in turn, is a reminder to those “in a time of ease” to be sensitive, attentive to others. To be the listening ear, the hands and feet, the compassionate heart that someone else needs — longs for.
There is another truth that underlines acknowledging memories, the truth that because God invaded our world two millennia ago in the form of a tiny baby, HOPE was born. HOPE that we have the promise of eternal life because that baby grew up to be a man who died a brutal death to ensure our sins — those things that separate us from a holy God, be it our thoughts, our actions, our words — would be forgiven. HOPE that our forgiveness, a free and unmerited gift, is what transforms our relationships with God and others. HOPE that someday we will be reunited with all those who have placed their faith and trust in the Christ Child… for all of eternity.
Having a memory like an elephant’s may not be such a bad thing — as long as it’s not holding onto grudges!
Have a very Merry Christmas! And God’s richest blessings in the New Year!