I have been so blessed to hear from you about all the Thankfulness trees and turkeys that were growing in your homes! I pray that your families are also being blessed with the joy that a grateful heart can bring!
Another way that we try to avoid "The Gimmies" is we...
4. Celebrate Advent at home
I'll just get it out in the open right away...we don't do Santa with our children. I only reveal that fact to give you a little background on how we began celebrating Advent in our home. We do exchange gifts but we really felt God leading us to keep our main focus on the best gift of all, the birth of our Savior.
In an effort to find a Christ-centered tradition for our family, I researched the celebration of Advent. I was raised in a denomination that observes the season of Advent and remember the purple banners and decorations, the lighting of candles, and a special time of anticipation leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. When my husband and I starting having our children, our home church did not observe Advent. But I was very interested in the idea of celebrating Advent at home, so we got our own Advent wreath and began doing a specific reading each night when lighting candles on our wreath. We have used Getting Ready for Christmas: A Daily Advent Prayer & Activity Book for the Family by Yolanda Browne
and The Christmas Touch: Making Christlike Connections during the Holidays by David and Karen Mains (and others).
In my research of Advent, I discovered the tradition of the Jesse tree. If you want an excellent, detailed explanation of the Jesse Tree tradition, you can find one at this link. The name "Jesse Tree" comes from Isaiah 11:1: "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots." (referring to the coming of Jesus Christ). The ornaments you place on the tree tell the Story of God throughout the Old Testament, and focuses on the faithfulness of God and the anticipation of the coming Messiah.
A simple way of explaining our Jesse Tree tradition is that each day we do a specific scripture reading and make an ornament based on a particular person or event in the Old Testament. This Jesse Tree link is where I found a wonderful detailed plan for daily scripture reading and ornament making for your tree. Here are some examples of ornaments that we have created for our tree. We like to use all types of materials, such as rocks and straw. The kiddos think it's super fun!
We choose to make our ornaments for several reasons:
1. the lil Shoes enjoy being crafty
2. it gives them something to do with their hands while their ears listen to the Scripture reading
3. and they really enjoy looking at the ornaments that they made over and over again, year after year, which gives us even more opportunity to talk about the meaning of each ornament, which helps the kiddos retain the information we have learned through Scripture.
Now again, it doesn't have to be crafty. Here's a link for Jesse Tree ornaments that you can download and print. The craft is not the focus of the Jesse Tree. The reason for the Jesse Tree is to keep a Christ-centered focus as you anticipate the celebration of Christmas.
Advent begins tomorrow, but don't think you can't celebrate because you're not prepared. It doesn't have to be fancy. All you need is a desire to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas preparations, the rest will fall into place.
A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1
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