*This post contains affiliate links.
THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
Christmas is my favorite time of year. The hot chocolate, the movies, the lights, the presents, and…SANTA! There’s something magical about the holiday season, and it seems to bring out the best in people.
However, if I’m not intentional, I miss the opportunity to teach my kids the reason for the season. Our kids know we bring our Bibles to church and that we pray before we eat, but Christmas becomes more about Santa rather than Jesus in their minds when we spend most days talking about presents.
I don’t want to miss this perfect opportunity to reinforce all of the things I teach my kids throughout the year:
- Be kind
- Love others
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
- Take care of those in need
- Be thankful
If we’re not careful, we teach our kids (without meaning to) that our Christian faith is something reserved for Sundays, Easter and Christmas. So through some advice of other seasoned moms, a little creativity and a little too much time on Pinterest, I’ve found ways to create traditions that train our children to focus on Jesus. One of my favorites is the “Jesse Tree“, which we use as our Advent Calendar at Christmastime.
THE ANCIENT TRADITION OF THE JESSE TREE
When my son was 2 years old, I learned about something called a Jesse Tree. It’s a way to connect the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree with the story of Jesus. In some form or another, the tradition of the Jesse Tree has been used for over 1,000 years!
The Jesse Tree tells the stories from creation to Christmas, highlighting the people, prophesies and events leading up to Jesus’ birth.
Jesse, the father of David, is mentioned in an Old Testament prophecy about his connection to the future King—the Son of God.
Isaiah 11:1-4“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”
The branch symbolizes a new beginning—Jesus is the new branch!
HOW WE USE THE JESSE TREE TRADITION
I started searching on the internet for ways to duplicate this tradition in my home, but everything I found seemed too formal or expensive. So using my favorite children’s Bible, I came up with a reading plan for every night in December leading up to Christmas.
Each night we read the story, look at the pictures, and predict what will happen. Then we find the ornament that symbolizes our story and add it to our tiny tree. As we approach Christmas, our tree fills up with stories from the Bible.
I like to place our tree on the dinner table, so that we can quiz the kids about previous stories or even read the next one while we eat. Having it in front of us each night, helps remind us to keep up with the schedule. It also keeps the story of Jesus at the center of our focus, instead of the list presents we hope to get.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE READING PLAN
Even if you don’t purchase the Beginner’s Bible, you can watch a free video each night that goes with the story before you put on your ornaments. You can check out ALL their free videos at the Beginner’s Bible YouTube Channel.
WHERE TO FIND ORNAMENTS
For those of your crafty mamas out there, get creative and make your own ornaments with your kiddos. The first year, we had a family night where we made our ornaments out of polymer clay. However, over time the kids wanted to have their own Jesse trees in their rooms, so I designed printable ornament coloring pages.
I love these printables, because I can share them easily with friends and family to start their own tradition of using the Jesse tree, as well as a way for each kid to create their own and really learn what the stories are about.
I am so excited to share these with you and hope that you are inspired to start this new tradition with your family this Christmas! The lights, the presents and the Santa parts of Christmas are amazing, yes!—but I want to make sure that I am being intentional in teaching my kids that Jesus is the reason for the season. This is why we get them involved in World Vision and packing MAGI boxes. It’s why I think our Jesse Tree is one of the most important things we do each December.
DOWNLOAD YOUR ORNAMENTS TODAY!
I wish you the very best this Christmas season!