Merry December, everyone! Is anyone else still in shock over the fact that December is just chugging on through? Like, where did September go? And why is it so dark the second we finish dinner at 5:30 p.m.?
Since the Hubs and I have been married, we haven’t developed many Christmas traditions of our own. I mean, why should we? We’re always with one (or both) of our families, so why sit in our house by ourselves just because? We do that every night.
Kids, of course, change everything. Well, we’re still going to be with our families over the span of Christmas. We still don’t have to develop our own Christmas traditions, mostly because we get along with and like our families enough to simply follow the old ones. George, our only child who has some kind of inkling about Christmas excitement, is getting a bedroom makeover for Christmas, so it’s not like he’ll have a pile of presents from Mama and Dada to open anyhow. He’s also getting underwear in his stocking. It’s a gold-medal gifting year for ol’ Mama!
However, I wanted to do something unique to our family. Enter: The Advent Jesse Tree!
Backstory: Two Januarys (Januaries?) ago, I happened to be at my friend Allison’s house while she was packing up her Christmas decorations. I came across a set of felt ornaments. She told me her sister had made a set of ornaments for her Advent Jesse Tree. Allison has since abandoned me for California (I miiiiss you!), but I love that I have a lasting Christmas tradition that reminds me of our friendship.
Well, I did a little research and decided to make my own set (and a set for my brother and sis-in-law. Because I’m a DIY overachiever with no follow through, though I did actually finish this!).
There are 25 ornaments—one for each day of December before Christmas. The ornaments tell the story of Jesus, as well as the redemptive story of the Bible. Each ornament has a symbol (and a number on the back) to tell a story. I purchased The Advent Jesse Tree by Dean Meador Lambert, which has devotions for children and adults. So, the whole process is basically idiot-proof. Score. Also, you don’t have to make your own ornaments. Etsy has at least 213 varieties. Which I copied. Unashamedly.
Each night, I’ve asked George to find the ornament with the corresponding number. Then I read the little devotion while he attempts to hang the ornament on the tree (toddler-hands conundrum). I mean, he just turned 3, so is he grasping all theological implications of the symbols? Ah, no. However, they do line up with stories he’s hearing at church, pre-school, and in his storybook Bible. It’s all about familiarity and teaching piece by piece, in my humble, untried opinion.
We do have a regular-sized tree, but I set up this little one by the kids’ toys. I thought about decorating it more, but I think I like it slowly getting decorated by the Advent ornaments. And, frankly, I didn’t want to spend the month reaching for lost ornaments under the couch.
Our “real” tree is my favorite. A few years ago, I decided to go with an artificial, white tree with white lights. Yes, I foresaw us chopping down our own tree each year (mostly for the plaid-covered family photos), but isn’t a fake tree just SO MUCH EASIER? I got ours from K-Mart, which means the white “needles” are yellowing with age and the glitter seems to multiply with age. However, I just love the glow it gives.
This year, I resisted attaching breakable ornaments to our tree, which means we have like 15 ornaments total. Y’all. Olivia is a fireball, and I just knew precious baby girl would thrive on chaotic tree dismantling. I’m also not going to put any wrapped presents under the tree. Why invite madness into my holiday season?
And so, here I sit, writing a blog post when I should be finishing up the too-many DIY Christmas presents I’ve committed to. My Christmas cards also sit in a messy pile on the coffee table next to me. I did buy stamps today, so I’m one step closer!
Merry December, friends. I hope your holiday is full of pockets of wonder, much nostalgia, praise of the Savior, and loving family.