Today I spent the day preparing for Advent. But so different from previous years, where I was always rushing to have the house decorated, this year I began getting ready by preparing our favorite Advent traditions. It's exciting that every year we are able to participate more and more as a family. The kids get older and their understanding is deeper than what I anticipate...and it's a glorious thing!
Since our first year of marriage, DH and I have celebrated Advent with the Jesse Tree. I had never heard of it before and a good friend of mine introduced me to this beautiful tradition. Ever since then, it has become one of my favorite things to do this time of year. It's not only a way to bring your family together every day in Holy Scripture, but it makes waiting for our Savior's birth something to celebrate every day. In all, I really like that there is a biblical basis to this tradition and that it focuses on God's story from the beginning of time.
Every year we have made paper ornaments for our Jesse tree. Sometimes using a Jesse Tree kit, other times printing out the symbols and coloring them in. The one thing that has stayed the same is our tree. A miniature Christmas tree that I purchased 10 years ago at our local Hobby Lobby. Some day, maybe we'll graduate to making real ornaments that can be reused again and again. We might even go so far as to purchase a bigger tree. But for now, I'm happy with our miniature, table-top tree. Looking at that tree sitting on our table always reminds me about the real meaning of Advent. It's not the presents under the tree, it's not the decorations...it's the patient waiting for the birth of Jesus. It's the celebration that begins on December 25th and lasts until the Epiphany.
There are many great resources to help anyone get the tradition of the Jesse Tree started in their own home. I love being able to print out the symbols and having the kids color them and place them on the tree each evening after dinner. If you have young kids, this is perfect! If you kids are older, you can create your own ornaments or purchase kits that they can put together. Either way, here are some sites that you might find helpful in getting you started.
Jesse Tree from the Domestic Church
Jesse Tree Kit from Illuminated Ink
The Glorious Coming E-book: A Jesse Tree Advent Celebration (This is what we are using this year!)
Jesse Tree, with printable ornaments
Jesse Tree coloring pages
Another more common tradition is that of the Advent Wreath. This year, I'm planning on changing things up a bit and having the whole family work on making an Advent wreath together. This will probably take place tomorrow on the first Sunday of Advent. I'm sure the kids will be happy about it and it will be a perfect way to introduce the season.
In all, I'm glad that I've decided to concentrate more on the traditions that make our Advent special and bring us together as a family. This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. I'll keep you updated with our family crafts!