Thanksgiving is over now and the kids are busy making up their Christmas wish lists. I know they so look forward to being showered with gifts. But, I try so hard to teach them that Christmas isn't about getting, it's not supposed to be a selfish holiday, and there is a deeper spiritual meaning to Christmas that too often gets forgotten amid the bows and paper.
A few years ago I learned about the Jesse Tree. That year I made an activity out of making little ornaments to put on paper trees we taped to the hallway wall. It was an activity the kids really looked forward to and gave us an opportunity each day to talk about why we, as Christians, are so joyful about Christmas.
Jesse tree activities start December 1st and go up until Christmas. Here are a few links to get you started if you are interested in taking on this activity with your children.
What is a Jesse Tree?
The short version - its a decorative element where each day in December leading up to Christmas, one hangs a new ornament on a tree or banner representing those in the lineage of Christ and celebrating the promise of a Savior given to us through Jesus Christ. Its a great activity to remember why we celebrate the birth of our Lord.
This site explains it a bit better - http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/s-jesse-tree.php
What do you do each day?
Each day usually includes a Bible reading and the making of and/ or the hanging of the ornament. What the ornament is depends on what is studied that day. The readings start with creation and go through to the birth of Christ. Here are some sites with lists of readings:
http://www.cresourcei.org/jesse.html#Jesse - scroll down till you see the table with the readings listed.
http://www.shalfleet.net/advent/makeajessetree.htm - scroll to the bottom of the page to see the Scriptures listed.
https://www.rca.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=6926 - another list of Scriptures with little excerpts to go along
To make the ornaments...
Note that some of the readings listed above will have a suggestion for the ornament for that day. You could just use those lists and let the kids use their imaginations. There are tons of ways to make the ornaments. Simple color and paste works just fine. Older children may enjoy doing something a bit more challenging. This site, though the items are for sale, can give you an idea of what an ornament might look like - http://www.jesse-trees.com/index.html
Next, here are some sites with printable ornaments:
http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19971201/FRIDGE/FRIDGE1.HTM - open and print from the pdf files
One of my favorite Jesse Tree devotional with printouts can be found at A Holy Experience. Just subscribe to the RSS feed or to get posts by e-mail. At the end of each entry will be a link to a free download of the Advent Jesse Tree book.
There are really lots and LOTS of downloads, printouts, and information regarding Jesse Trees on the Internet. These are just a few.
Looking forward to a blessed Christmas,