Monday, November 17, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent!

I'm not one to rush the holidays. I love Christmas trees and lights and wreaths as much as the next guy. I enjoy decorating my house with evergreen and Nativity sets, baking Christmas cookies, and opening presents. I dream of sitting by a fireplace and listening to Christmas carols as the evening comes.  Heck, I'd even throw a campout party in the living room and sleep under the tree if I didn't fear my husband would look at me cock-eyed for suggesting it.  Christmas has a place in my heart.

Christmas also has a place on calendar.  I respect its place at the end of December, and I leave Thanksgiving to November.  We also spend the four weeks leading up to Christmas celebrating Advent.

Something prompted me, however, to give a little bit of premature thought to the December Holidays, however.  The dear ladies over here have started a little party, trimmed in purple (or blue, depending on your church), and cloaked in patience.  It's an Advent party.  Since Advent begins in a few weeks, I thought I'd join in a bit early in case anyone wanted to use my ideas.

Here's what advent looks like at our house:

If you think that's a dead branch hot-glued into a stump I found in our wood pile, you'd be right.  It's our Jesse tree. ("There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." Is. 11:1)  Each day, beginning on December 1st, with our evening devotions, we read a Bible story that tells the story of Christ beginning with Creation, and add one ornament:
As this refuses to rotate, no matter how I try, you'll have to go with it.
Throughout Advent, we walk through the stories of the Bible and see why Christ had to come. Most of the ornaments are well-known Bible stories.  The last eight before Christmas are the O Antiphons.  As the ornaments are added to the tree, it becomes lovelier.

You can do a search for "Jesse Tree" and find many great resources. There are kid-friendly symbols, or elaborate designs; some simple black-and-white coloring pieces, some cut from foam.  The stories even vary from resource to resource.  Some include the O Antiphons, others don't.  I'm partial to great art, and love stained glass, so I used the resources found here for ours. She has the ornaments available for free in PDF.  I simplified her procedure, mostly because I didn't have all the cool stuff she did, and I was a bit frantic. It was December 1st.  I don't recommend waiting that long to start making them.

However, last year, I did make up a Jesse Tree program for the Advent Tea the ladies do at church. While many of the stories are the same, I based it on Christ's lineage and the Jesse Tree stained glass windows in many great cathedrals. The stories toward the end include some lesser-known stories of the kings from David to Zerubabbel, before switching to John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph.  Also, I only made 18 of them, which leaves room for the O Antiphons. (We only had 45 minutes for the tea). The ornaments are quite large, as we were hanging them a Jesse Tree six feet high in the front of church.  If you're interested in seeing it or using it, I can send a copy your way.

Of course, we do a number of other things to celebrate Advent (fasting, noon prayer services at church, decorating the house slowly over the weeks, baking and freezing cookies, deep cleaning the house, listening to Advent hymns, etc.), but I think the Jesse Tree is sufficient for one post.

Check out the Advent Link-up party at Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.  There are some great ideas!


  1. Oh I like your tree and stump. Also your plan of deep cleaning the house during Advent, I like doing that too...ish. Especially with the "more stuff" that comes into it during Christmas. Good for Lenten practice as well. There's something about the repentant seasons that makes me want to clean!

  2. Thanks! I believe the cleaning is an old tradition, though I can't point you to a specific source. I enjoy the cleaning, though it never lasts long around here!

  3. I don't have a Jesse tree (yet) but am enjoying all these ideas! Growing up, our Advent wreath was actually a log cut from my when my parents vicared in Oregon. So, I love your Jesse tree branch! :-)