With Advent just around the corner (less than a week away!), I thought this week I would share a few Advent traditions that we do at our house. It is important to me that during this time we make sure our children understand the true reasons we are preparing to celebrate Christmas. In a world where commercialism reigns, these little family traditions can help us to retain the beauty and meaning of the season.
Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year within the Church. It is a season of prayer and preparation. We are beginning to prepare our hearts and homes for the Christ Child, born in Bethlehem so many years ago.
For many years I longed to have a Jesse Tree in our home. I have fond memories as a child of creating a huge Jesse Tree across the walls at our parish elementary school. The entire school would gather and our priest would read the bible stories leading up to Christ’s birth. We started with the creation stories and worked our way through many important stories of the Old Testament. With each story we would place a picture on the wall that went along with the reading. I loved seeing that tree come to life with the story of Jesus’ family- of our family.
I tried many times to make a Jesse Tree for our home, but I failed time and time again. I don’t know why it was so difficult to do. Each year I was disappointed that another Advent season had slipped away without me introducing this wonderful tradition to my children.
A couple of years ago I decided that I was done being disappointed. I wanted my children to have this precious memory too. And so I scoured the internet for just the right pictures to print and color. We made our ornaments, found the bible passages associated with the readings, and bought a tiny little tree to hang them on.
The kids loved it.
A New Tradition is Born
A Jesse Tree takes its roots from Isaiah 11:1 which reads, “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”
It is a visual reminder and teaching tool to help us understand Jesus’ lineage and how His coming was foretold in the Old Testament. It helps us connect with the old covenant with the new and shows us how God has been faithful throughout all time.
We started by finding a website that contained both the pictures for the ornaments and the bible readings we would need. We found them here. After downloading them and printing them up, I dispersed them out to the kids so that they could color them.
We wrote the bible reading on the back.
And laminated them (my favorite part!) making sure we punched a hole in the top prior to laminating the ornaments.
We punched a new hole and attached ribbon to hang our ornaments on our tiny tree.
Each night during Advent we sit as a family to read Scripture. As we hang the new ornament on the tree, we pray together. Family prayer time is typically one of our children’s favorite times of the day and this tradition adds so much to our time together. Each night they ask, “Is it time yet?”
I am so happy that our children will have memories like this to look back on. Not only are we imparting our faith, but we are creating bonds that will continue to tie their hearts to ours and to God no matter where they are or what they are doing.
And that is a gift that you can’t find in any store.