Last week I posted about a new tradition that our little family started this year. However, I didn’t get into the specifics too deeply because there was so much I wanted to share and I knew it would take a whole separate post to share it all.
If you missed my last post, no worries! I’ll start from the beginning!
Dylan and I decided that this year, we would start a new tradition for Advent. It’s one that I had heard about years ago, but wanted to wait to begin when I had children of my own. I wish I hadn’t waited so long because this tradition doesn’t require you to have children (although, that has made it fun!) and it certainly doesn’t take a huge chunk out of your day. It’s called the Jesse Tree.
At it’s simplest, I would say it’s a special way to tell the Redemption story, beginning with Creation and walking through the Bible all the way to the birth of Christ at Christmas. It illuminates how the Bible from the very beginning, directs us to Jesus.
The idea began in Isaiah 11:1
“A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit.”
You read a verse each day during the Advent season and talk about the story it came from, say a prayer, and there’s a corresponding ornament that goes with it. I bought the book The Jesse Tree Advent – Devotions for Children and Adults to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas off of Amazon because it gives you everything you need to facilitate the discussion with your family! They use some KJV language, but you can easily pull up another translation that you prefer instead if that’s more of your style.
So…where do these ornaments come from you may be thinking? On top of everything else I have going on in my busy holiday schedule I have to create 25 cute little ornaments??
Yes and no…
I decided that I wanted to include all of my friends and family in this tradition, because in my opinion, traditions are way more fun when you include the people you love! So, I hosted a Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange Party.
A Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange Party! I texted all of my friends and family members that lived close by and I explained to them what this awesome tradition entails. I then invited them to join me in celebrating Advent in this way by helping me make some ornaments. The idea was to try to find 25 ladies (holy cow!) and have each one of them pick one of the days. They would then make 25 of that same ornament to bring to the exchange so that everyone would have that ornament and they, in turn, would collect the other 24 they needed from the other ladies at the party. At the end of the party, each lady would walk away with 25 awesome Jesse Tree Ornaments to use year after year with their families.
However, it’s kind of hard to find 25 ladies. Or maybe it was just hard for me! Regardless, I was unable to find 25 people to participate, but that didn’t stop me from still hosting this memorable event. Instead, each lady that committed to coming, chose multiple days instead of just one. But, instead of having to make 25 of each ornament, they only had to make 10 of each because there were 10 of us that came.
I gave everyone a month before we met up to do the exchange so that everyone had plenty of time to make or buy the ornaments that they selected. That’s the key here friends, TIME! If you host a Jesse Tree Party, make sure you start talking about it a few months in advance and give everyone plenty of time to scour Pinterest or chip away at them a little bit each weekend or during their kids’ nap time. It will definitely make it less daunting!
**Also, you do not HAVE to make your ornaments. There are TONS of printable ideas and resources on Pinterest that you can use if the whole arts and crafts scene isn’t your thing. I’m a 2nd grade teacher and I love using a glue gun, felt, and my Cricket any chance I can. To each her own. There is no wrong way to do it!
If you choose to buy the book I used (see above again) then here is the list of ornaments you would use along with the photos of the incredible, creative, beautiful ornaments my friends and I made. There are many different versions out there on the Internet, so just make sure you find one that correlates with the book you choose or find one that has all of the symbols and scriptures laid out so you know what to do each day!
Jesse Tree Symbols & Scriptures:
Day 1: globe/world/Earth (Genesis 1:1)
Day 2: an apple & snake (Genesis 3:1-10;23)
Day 3: an ark/rainbow (Genesis 6:5-8, 7:17-23, 9:16)
Day 4: camel & tent (Genesis 12:1-7)
Day 5: lamb (Genesis 22:1-13)
Day 6: ladder (Genesis 28:10-17)
Day 7: colorful coat (Genesis 37:3-36, 50:18-21)
Day 8: tablet with ten numbers (Exodus 32:15-18, 20:1-20)
Day 9: cluster of grapes (Numbers 13:1-2, 17-23, 27)
Day 10: sheaf of wheat (Ruth 1:16, 2:5-17, 4:14)
Day 11: slingshot (1 Samuel 16:1,13; 17:1-9, 40, 45-50)
Day 12: scroll or bible (2 Kings 23:1-3)
Day 13: stump with fresh shoot or green leaf (Isaiah 11:1-5)
Day 14: lion & lamb (Isaiah 11:6-10)
(I made this one double-sided with the lion on one side and the lamb on the other. My son thought it was hilarious!)
Day 15: dove & crown (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Day 16: lamb & shepherd’s staff (Isaiah 40:11)
Day 17: cross (Isaiah 53, Luke 2:8-18)
Day 18: heart with writing on it (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Acts 16:31)
Day 19: Bethlehem town silhouette with star (Luke 2:4-7)
Day 20: fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-29, Jeremiah 1:8)
Day 21: brick wall (Nehemiah 1:3, 2:18, 6:15, 16, Malachi 3:1, Revelation 22:20)
Day 22: star (Matthew 2:1-12, Revelation 22:16)
Day 23: candle/light (Luke 1:26-38, 2:32)
Day 24: angel (Hebrews 1:14, Luke 2:8-14, Romans 6:23)
Day 25: baby in a manger or nativity scene (Luke 2:1-10, John 3:16-17)
Aren’t those ornaments incredible? My friends and family are pretty awesome, if I do say so myself! We had so much fun making them and then exchanging them. It was the perfect way to kick-off the Advent season. Our holiday season was pretty cram-packed full of fun and meaningful events. We were very busy and it wasn’t always easy to remember the reason for why we celebrate Christmas. But, having this daily time together where we could sit and read God’s Word, sing Christmas hymns, and pray together at the end of a busy day, was the most grounding and humbling part of each day for me. I hope you’ll consider starting this tradition with your family next year too, because I promise you, God will use your time and your efforts and make Himself known through that time.
My daughter is obviously too little to understand any of it this year, but Blake was at the sweetest age where it made the time so special (not every night!). He even started asking “Mommy, time for Blake to put ornament on tree now, peez?!” each night. He may not have grasped some of the deep, profound theology behind the stories we read and why they are so pivotal to the foundation of our faith…but I’m learning that this journey in raising Godly kiddos is a long-term, lifelong thing. If I truly believe that God is alive, present, powerful, and King of my life and my family’s life, I have to keep at it…even when it seems like it’s falling on deaf or distracted toddler ears.
I hope your holiday and Advent season were truly wonderful. I hope that you were able to find some quiet time during the hustle and bustle to huddle with your family and talk about Jesus and why He came down and made Himself as tiny as a baby for us. But if you didn’t…don’t worry! The wonderful thing about having a relationship with God is that even though Christmas is a great reminder of His coming, you can still spend every day living your life worshiping Him and making Him known to your family. You don’t have to wait until next year at Christmas to gather your family up for time in the word together. Isn’t that awesome!?
Does your family have a special tradition that you do during the holidays? I’d love to hear about it!