By Martha Hughes

Deep in the Congo rainforest of Africa lived a herd of elephants.  For Stompy, the littlest elephant, living in the Congo rainforest of the African Jungle, was the best place on earth. She loved everything about it, especially now that the wet season was over. The plains were now lush and flourishing, with flowers blooming in every single open space and in so many beautiful and varied colours.

Stompy was very excited! The rainforest was looking wonderful just in time for Christmas.

Day and night, Stompy couldn’t stop talking about Christmas. All she cared about was having the biggest Christmas tree, the best decorated house, all the food she could eat, and all the presents she would get. She might even get more gifts than all of her friends.

Every day she would come up with new toys and things she wanted.

Whenever she went to the shops, Stompy embarrassed her mama, papa and big sister.

“Mama, papa look! Buy more Christmas decorations so our house will look better than everyone’s.” she would command loudly – other animals around them would turn around and whisper amongst each other.

 “Oh mama, papa look!” I want that! I don’t have it.” She would bellow.

Then she would write the new things she had seen on her list and hand them to her family and even to her friends.

Her family and friends were worried and getting exhausted of all the things she kept persisting they get her.

Every night before bed, Stompy would grab a present, shake it and try to guess what was inside.

“Oh, look, I have more presents than you,” Stompy told her sister one night, trumpeting loudly.

Her sister stared at her. “Stompy, Christmas isn’t about getting more presents than anybody else or decorating trees or doing a big dinner. It’s all about baby Jesus. God’s gift to the world.”

“God’s gift? Baby Jesus?” Stompy frowned, she had heard about Baby Jesus a few times but she couldn’t remember all the details – she had been too young.

“Yes.” her sister nodded. “Ask mama and papa.”

Stompy marched to mama and papa with her sister following close behind.

“Mama, can you tell me about baby Jesus? Lola said he’s the gift to the world.” Stompy said.

Mama and papa looked at each other. “We’re glad you asked.” Papa said.

Mama elephant told her family to sit and listen while she read them a special story. Mama grabbed her Bible and opened it in Matthew chapter 1, verses 18-25.

Mama read the verses slowly so Stompy could understand what it said. “So, you see Stompy. About 2000 years ago, an angel appeared to a young girl named Mary, and He told her that she was going to have a baby boy and to name Him Jesus. Christmas is to celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the gift for all of us.”

Mama paused and looked at her family before continuing, “When Jesus grew up, He healed a lot of sick and hurting people, He helped those in need of food, He blessed the children and told them bible stories, He always thought of others.”

“Wow, I didn’t know!” Stompy was very surprised.

“He also came so we could be saved and go to heaven one day with him.”

Stompy nodded slowly. There was a lot to think about.

That night, as the moon shone bright and everyone was asleep, Stompy’s mind swirled with the story of baby Jesus. She couldn’t stop thinking about all the things He had done for all those people who needed help. How greedy and focused on herself she had been.

Stompy didn’t like the way she’d been acting and decided it was time for a change. Praying to Jesus, she asked Him to forgive her and help her have a heart like His that was loving and helpful.

Suddenly, she had a brilliant idea, and she knew Jesus was already helping her change. Stompy went to sleep with a big smile on her face. She couldn’t wait to tell her family about her Christmas plan.

The next morning at the breakfast table, Stompy apologised to her family.

“I am so sorry everyone for thinking just about me. I didn’t mean to be so greedy.”

 “That’s ok” they all said, giving her a hug.

“We all make mistakes,” Mama said, giving her an extra hug.

Stompy smiled and then looked at her family again.

“Mama,” she said, “last night I had an idea. Instead of buying decorations, why don’t we decorate the tree and house with the beautiful coloured flowers from the field? They are so bright and pretty?”

“Oh wow, that would be fun,” Sister said, nodding her head. “We can pick some tomorrow.”

“And.” Stompy continued. “Instead of having so many gifts, I think we should share those in need who might not have enough money to buy gifts. Maybe we could invite our neighbours for a big Christmas dinner. We all bring something to share and have a special table called “Unwanted Treasures” where we can swap gifts.”

“What do you mean?” her sister asked, confused.

“Well, we all get given presents on different occasions and sometimes we don’t open it or use it at all. It’s still new and in good condition but sitting on the shelves collecting dust. Let’s tell everyone to bring those gifts and put them on the table and then we all get to pick from them,”

“Oh wow, yes!” Her sister nodded happily.

“That’s a splendid idea, Stompy.” Her mama and papa said.

“And then maybe you, Papa, could read us the Christmas story about baby Jesus.”

“Perfect! I think it’s wonderful,” Mama said, hugging her family together.

“I will make some invitations for everyone.” Stompy added.

“We don’t have much time. Christmas Eve is a few days away.” Sister answered, then pulled Stompy from her trunk to get started.

The next morning, Stompy and her sister went to all their friends’ and families’ homes to invite them for a special Christmas dinner. Everyone was excited and accepted their invitation.

Stompy also apologised to them for her greediness. They all hugged and forgave her.

The time for the party was fast approaching, and they needed to collect their decorations.

Stompy and her sister went to collect flowers the day before the party.

The fields were covered with wildflowers. It was lovely. They could see the Butterflies fluttering their wings, dancing around the flowers.

They could hear the bees buzzing, collecting pollen, and birds were singing as they flew from tree to tree enjoying the beautiful day. Everything looked so fresh.

They walked around for a few hours gathering bunches and bunches of wildflowers. They walked and walked from one place to another, then suddenly stopped when they came to a beautiful pathway where the trees formed an arch.

They gasped! It was stunning.

“Stompy look!” Her sister pointed her trunk toward the arch.

Stompy nodded. “Let’s explore and see where the arch takes us.” She said.

The tree vines were hanging all the way down each side, creating a pathway.

Walking through the arch of trees, they followed it along and heard a loud noise that sounded like thunder or heavy rain.

Could there be a storm coming?

Slowly, they made the way to the noise and gasped.

It was a waterfall!

With the sun shining, it made the water reflect the colours of the rainbow.

The sisters looked at each other in awe and trumpeted with joy. They had found the perfect spot for their big Christmas dinner with family and friends. Excitedly, Stompy and sister hung all the flower decorations.

“You know,” Stompy said as she helped her sister hang more flowers, “if we can find some fireflies and put them inside little bell-shape flowers we can make Christmas lights.” she giggled.

Lola gaped. “Oh, that would look amazing Stompy, we can come just before the others and catch those fireflies.”

Later that afternoon, once they had finished decorating the special spot, they headed home. They were so exhausted that straight after dinner; they went to bed.

The next day was Christmas Eve. Stompy and her family all went to the waterfall to put the finishing touches. Papa found a big wide log to put the food on. It was very heavy, but they pushed and pulled and eventually they got it to where they wanted.

They set up the log with an all-you-can-eat buffet. They dressed the log with green fodder and spread food all around to make a huge buffet of their favorited fruits. They had bananas, pineapple, watermelon, mangoes, papaya, avocados, guava, berries, melons and more.

As the sun darkened and began to hide behind the trees, Stompy and her sister caught fireflies to light their party.

They hung different coloured bell-shape flowers around the tree vines and all the way from the arch entrance through the pathway that led to the waterfall. Once they had finished, they were very tired, but it was worth it – the set-up looked striking flashing their lights on all the different coloured flowers.

As night time approached, Stompy and Lola grew more and more excited. Soon, all their guests would arrive.

As the sparkling full moon appeared, their guests arrived at the mystery location. They were all enthusiastic and spellbound at the secluded place before them. They couldn’t believe that Stompy and her family had done all that for them! The animals of the rainforest echoed their amazement.

 “WOW! This is AMAZING.”

“Look at all that food. Yummmm.”

“Thank you for inviting us!”

“Look at the stunning decorations!”

“This is the best Christmas party we have ever been too!”

Stompy and Lola looked at each other and grinned. Stompy’s heart sang with joy. Making others feel special and having a giving heart like Jesus, really was very special.

“Thank you girls, for such inviting us.” Their friends and family said, coming to hug them both.

Papa elephant offered to do the blessing over the food.

The Christmas dinner was the best they had had in years. It truly was a night to remember. It felt so good to relax, hear the waterfall making a lovely sound and spend time with their loved ones.

“Merry Christmas Everyone.” Stompy and her sister said in unison.

“And thank you Jesus for being the greatest gift of all.” Stompy trumped loudly.

PICTURE CREDIT -Pexels, Jane Doan, Jonathan Meyer, Karolina Grabowska:

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