A few years back we made a Jesse Tree to use as part of our advent preparation. I believe I said something like, “So help me, we’re going to have a holy advent if it kills me.” So my dear spouse fashioned the tree. Helen decorated the ornaments, I tied ribbons and hot glued and our tree grew from wooden dowels and discs into a much-treasured family tradition.
Starting on the first day of advent, we read daily scripture that tells of the genealogy of Jesus. Then we hang a little ornament on the tree. It’s similar to an advent countdown, but with a scriptural focus.
This is our fourth year, so the readings are familiar to the older children. Henry can’t wait to hear about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac and the stories of destruction–especially the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the great flood. Mary Claire takes charge and organizes our nightly gathering and does most of the reading or designates a reader.
I’m especially eager this year for the readings about the birth of Jesus because Lillian is all about the nativity. We’ve been reading books and are frequently talking about the birth of Christ. We make special efforts to stop and admire all the outdoor nativity scenes that adorn the local landscape. (Because if we don’t, I’ll never hear the end of it from my 30-pound back-seat driver.) And every time she sees an angel she folds her hands in prayer and says solemnly, “And the angel of the Lord said, hail Mary, full of grace.” I look forward to her recognizing those same stories as we gather as a family and read from our Bible, counting down another day closer to Christmas.
The best part about the Jesse Tree is that it brings us together nightly. It’s a series of quiet (okay, not always quiet) moments that have turned into memories we will treasure. And those memories are centered where they should be — around Christ.