Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Favorite Christmas Tradition - The Jesse Tree

Christmas traditions are a big deal at our house. Each of us has our favorites - from breakfast with Santa at the local fire department to getting our tree from the same tree farm every year to watching a Charlie Brown Christmas for about the billionth time.

But one tradition that is very important to all of us is the Jesse Tree. A friend of mine introduced me to this about four years ago and it quickly became a family favorite. It's kind of like an Advent calendar but covers Creation to Jesus' birth rather than just highlighting the Nativity story.

We begin on Dec. 1 and hang one ornament a day through Christmas Day. Each ornament represents a symbol from the Old and New Testament and traces the heritage of Jesus from Creation through His birth. We also read a devotion that explains the significance of what that day's ornament represents.

I could only show the first two days on the tree because that's as far as we've gotten.
This is the devotional book we use - you can get it on Amazon.

Part of what makes this so special is that all of the ornaments are handmade. We got 25 women to pick a day/symbol and then they made 25 pf the same ornament. Then we met back up several weeks later (obviously you want to start this well before Dec. 1 if you plan on doing it that year) and had an ornament swap. Each of us brought all 25 of the same ornaments but left with 25 different ornaments - one for each day. If you're not crafty, don't panic. Some ornaments ended up being very ornate - but some are very simple or even store-bought. But that's OK - because what's so cool about this is seeing how everyone interprets their symbol.

A snapshot of all 25 ornaments from one of my three sets
I've done this three times now - so I have three different sets. I plan to give a set to each of my kids when they leave home so that they can carry on this tradition with their families.

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