We love Christmas at our house. Of course the presents are fun, and the yummy treats we make and share, and even getting to see family and friends that are passing through, but we have two other traditions that have helped transform our Decembers into something special:Advent and the Jesse Tree. I guess you could count them as one, as they both prepare us for the coming of Jesus.
During the year, we read through the Bible at breakfast. We used The Child’s Story Bible one year and the Children’s Illustrated Bible some as well. In December we use the Jesse Tree Journey from Ann Voskamp. I printed out the ornaments and got a wee little tree on clearance, and we keep it on a table with our Advent wreath. At breakfast I move the little tree and basket of ornaments to the breakfast table, and one child gets to put the ornament for that day on the tree while I read the Bible story that matched the reading of the day. The ornament has a picture that illustrates the story. If you haven’t seen Ann’s work, check it out. The entire download is on her website.
Before bedtime we have advent. I got a beautiful advent wreath for my birthday last year and love love love it! We read a book we got when Emily was just two that tells the entire Christmas narrative. It’s called The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman. I have looked online, and you can get used copies on Amazon, or go straight to the author’s website to get a copy.
Advent doesn’t have to be difficult; we make it very simple. Jonathan chooses a Christmas hymn and we sing it all week to really help our younger children learn it: Angels We Have Heard on High, Joy to the World and The First Noel have been sung in years past. Sometimes he plays it on the guitar as I light the candles, sometimes we sing a capella. Then we read the book. The same child who put the Jesse Tree ornament on the tree at breakfast gets to turn the pages, open the “door” on each page, and read the story. They also get to blow out the candles when we’re done. It saves alot of squabbling and keeps the peace if you decide this ahead of time–believe me, I know! Then we open at any Christmas cards we may have received and pray for that person or family. We close with another song and a prayer and the candles are blown out. Our youngest child heads to bed and the older ones stay up and read Jotham’s Journey with dad. I put all these resources at my never picture perfect Amazon site.
If you’ve never incorporated Advent into your December I encourage you to try it. It’s not too late to begin. It will become a meaningful family tradition you all will cherish through the years.