Traditionally this feast is celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th, but this year, in the United States, this feast day has been moved to january 8th! Twelfth Night is a day of partying and feasting … lots and lots of feasting, lots and lots of partying and a day chock full of education that encompasses all 5 senses. More
As faith filled parents we are always looking for new exciting ways to bring the reason for the Christmas season into our homes so it remains a prominent focus in the minds and hearts of our children. This is not an easy task in a world where simply uttering the words Merry Christmas is seen as an affront to non-Christians everywhere.
Each Advent Season we try to add more Christ focused traditions to our household. The elf on the shelf is not one of them … he’s cute, he’s darling, it’s a nice concept, but I expect good behavior from my kids year round and not because they are going to get anything out of it. Kind of a haughty statement, isn’t it? It’s really not meant to be. I can occasionally be heard saying St. Nicholas is watching, but for the most part, good behavior is expected and not rewarded. Now, if you go above and beyond, then sure, you are not only recognized, but celebrated. Hence, the newest Kellogg Advent Tradition … the Manger.
We simply took a Velveeta box (yuk, utterly unhealthy, I know), a clothespin, and some white felt, some straw and Kady made the ultimate manger craft. The Velveeta box is the manger, the clothespin is the baby Jesus and the felt is wrapped around his little body. We took a Sharpie Marker and made a face. Now, for every good deed the kids do, learning a new prayer, morning offering, nighttime prayers, selfless acts, charity, reading the Bible, being exceptionally polite, etc, they get to place a piece of straw in the manger. Quite frankly, we are off to a slow start, there are exactly 3 pieces of straw in the manger at the moment. =) Surely we’ll start rocking the manger, right? When/If the manger is filled we plan on baking cookies to bring to the Nursing Home and to some elderly members of our Parish. The kids, Kady especially, wants to bake cookies and bring them to the jail … I’m down with that if they allow it — do they allow it?
Now, the reason for this post is the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is a tradition we started a few years back. It is very much like the Resurrection Eggs at Easter in that it teaches all the major events leading up to the birth of Christ and introduces the kids to the people who prepared the way for Jesus. We explain that during advent we are preparing for Jesus’ birth. I point out that we all wait for something like our birthday, or a trip or Easter, etc. So many waited for the coming of Jesus just as we wait for Christmas morning.
A Jesse Tree ought not be complicated, we simply went out into our yard and cut off a dead branch from an Aspen tree. It needs to have several smaller branches shooting off the main part so you can hang your ornaments, and it shouldn’t have leaves, just keep it simple. We took our branch and stuck it in one of our potting plants filled with dirt and called it a day.
All you need now is the ornaments. You can make them yourself or buy them. We opted to keep our costs down this year so we simply downloaded and printed already made symbols which we then colored and cut out. We also cut out cardboard circles (from a pizza box) in the same size to paste the symbols to after they were colored. We found these adorable Printable Jesse Tree Ornaments and decided to use these this year … they even had the corresponding bible verses to make it super duper easy for you.
Of course there are so many options for Jesse Tree ornaments. I’m amazed at the incredibly talented and crafty people in this world. I accept this is not my forte’ and so we simply print them, color them, afix them to the cardboard, attach string to the back and run with it.
When we are ready for the celebration — typically in the evening and typically right before dinner, we get everybody together and begin. We typically say a prayer, led by Dan or myself or even any one of the kids … the prayer usually asks God to help us keep Jesus in our minds and our hearts while we await his birthday. We ask for patience and love and we include any prayer intentions for that day. And again we keep it simple, we are not trying to impress anyone with our words and it is our goal that the youngest of our children participate and understand. We then read the corresponding bible verse and one of the kids gets the honor of placing the ornament on the tree. It is really exciting and fun for the kids and add to that the learning and understanding … winning! =)
My next hurdle is to learn about the O Antiphons! Believe it or not, I’m hearing about this for the first time this year! Feel free to pontificate or share resources with me … Thanks in advance!
And on a slightly related topic … check out American Family Association’s website for lists of companies who are deemed Christmas friendly and those that are not. It only makes sense if you are going to buy Christmas presents to buy them from company’s that honor the Christmas season.
Check out our vlog on this and other Advent traditions on YouTube …
After Christmas Glow, Baptism, Feast of the Holy Family, Kerry Jams Out, and Dancing Fools.
Secret Santa gifts are opened and then Dan and I escape for some Christmas Food Shopping to Costco. Ever stay at a store entirely too long and you realize it as the meltdown begins? Yep, we did that today, but Emmy is so cute, she is just acting out how I feel!! ha ha
Yes, Yes it does take us 3+ days to finish our tree. But, today was just an awesome day spent entirely at home chillaxin and connecting and having fun. Dan’s a Marine and so in our home, you’re either a Marine or a Princess and guess how it’s split … ??
Decorating our Christmas tree and hanging our stockings with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be here.
Day Chock full of shopping, Dr’s and — Dan gets berated for his childish behavior at Targay, Elly’s back at the Dr, and Brody’s in charge of what?
Today we go shopping for our Secret Santa gifts. Life is an adventure, right?
We patch our roof and hang our Christmas lights barely in time before nightfall and snow.
Happy Birthday to Our Tough Guy Dally!!! Hiking & Sledding for a Christmas Tree in the BackCountry!! We were so beyond exhausted that we gave up and bought a GORGEOUS tree!!