One of the traditions we began this year was our Jesse Tree. And, well, we’re a little behind on the whole thing, since we’re only on Day 15. We were supposed to do Day 25 on Christmas.
Let’s not count the days to reveal just how behind we are. Ok?
I was so excited when this idea started brewing in my head. It was right before Thanksgiving and I was dreading getting all of the Christmas decorations out, simply because I knew I would hang four stockings on the fireplace and one would be glaringly empty. I hate having an empty stocking.
I’ll admit that I stared at it and imagined all the girly-goodness I wanted to put in it. Stickers and toothbrushes and nonsense for my sweet almost-two-year-old. Oh how I miss her!
Instead I prayed and searched. I found an idea for a Jesse Tree. Each night we open an ornament that highlights a story from the Old Testament. Specifically, stories about people that play a part in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. We’ve purposely prayed that Annie’s life would point others to Jesus, so why not fill her stocking with stories of people whose very lives pointed to the coming of Jesus so long ago?
People like Joseph (striped coat) who chose forgiveness instead of bitterness and revenge. People like Ruth and Naomi (wheat) who remind us that God doesn’t forget us, even when we are sad. And people like Rahab (red ribbon) who help us to remember that God will give us courage to help others.
So Peter and I spent an afternoon at the craft store trying to find all the itty bitty materials to make up our tree. I put them together (which was a bit trying since I’m not at all crafty. I think I may have permanently damaged my fingerprint while using the glue gun. Ow.) Each ornament went into a cloth bag and into Annie’s stocking. It was delightfully full.
I wrote out short little devotions to go with each ornament (found here) and paper clipped them to pages in a special journal. Each night as we read the devotion and the corresponding story in the Bible, the kids draw pictures in the journal. There’s also a simple question that we answer together and record. Next year, I’ll just paper clip the devotions to the next set of blank pages in the journal and we’ll start over.
Now, lest you think that we are Super Mom and Super Dad, let me tell you that we’ve had our share of nights when we do this through gritted teeth. I’ll admit that I had visions of peaceful family time, where we had deep talks about Christ and fun memories of Annie. Instead, there are usually fights about who gets to draw first and who gets to put the ornament on. Someone usually interrupts by having to go potty. William’s prayers (directed at the oldest sister) are “Help us to make good decisions and quit making bad ones”. But Peter gently reminds me that we’ll figure this out as we go and building in traditions aren’t always easy the first go-around. He’s right, of course.
So, all of the Christmas paraphernalia has long gone, but this little tree remains a part of our nights. We take deep breaths and pull out a new ornament that reminds us of the birth of a Baby who changed the World so long ago. And I thank Jesus for a full stocking and the chance to use Annie’s life in this little way.
P.S. The angel at the top? A Kate original. I love Sunday School crafts!