Tuesday, November 23, 2010

J is for Jessie Tree

Last year, about halfway thru Advent, I was introduced to Jessie Trees. I thought it was a really cool idea, from the crude understanding I had of the concept, and stored it away for the next year.

This year, by some miracle, I actually remembered the idea (and in October no less!) and went about researching how exactly to go about it.

To be very, very brief the Jessie tree is a small tree/branch/poster of a tree on which you add one ornament (representing one story of the old testament, leading up to Christ's birth) each day of Advent. From my understanding a lot of its popularity is due to Christians dual love of Christmas tree's and hatred of their pagan origins, but that is a mute point as I do'nt care about the Christmas tree's pagan origins.

I had figured up until this point that there was some sort of hard-and-fast rule about which ornament/story goes on which day. But when I started researching I realized there was nothing of the sort. Not only did different people choose different stories, but not even did everyone begin the same day. I saw all sorts of Jessie trees after about a half hour in internet searching. Some people chose stories to follow the family tree of Jesus (hint- Jessie is in there), some people chose stories by methodologically spreading them out- 1 week from the fathers of Judaism, 1 week from the histories, 1 week from the prophets, and 1 week from the new testament. A few people didn't even lead up to Jesus' birth, but spent quite a bit (or all) of the days on stories from Jesus' life.

When it came to starting dates there were only a few different options- those that began the first day of Advent, those that began Dec 1st, and those that began 12 days before Christmas for a "12 days of Christmas" idea. (Although the 12 days of Christmas begin with Christmas day and include the 12 days between Christmas and the Epiphany, so that didn't make much sense to me.)

And then the ornaments- so many different kids of ornaments. Printed and colored pictures, felted figures, clay figures, cards and posters cut out, ect.

So a curse and a blessing- I got to make mine up all by myself.

I used examples from the internet as a guide, and then sort of chose haphazardly what I wanted to include and what I didn't. I stuck mostly with the "biggie stories", the ones that everyone knows, and the simplest, because my kids are quite young. As they get older I will probably switch it up a bit, and include more mature material. I'm also strongly coveting this, although I do not have the funds this year.

I decided we should really begin on the first day of Advent (the 4th Sunday before Christmas), even though that means a different number of ornaments each year. The draw of having exactly 25 to do each year was strong, but the draw of following the church's rhythm was stronger.

And as for how to make the ornaments- well I looked long and very hard on those gorgeous felted ones, and then decided there was no way I had the time. Maybe another year, no? I ended up watercoloring on some heavy paper, and cutting it out into a circle. It still took me a few night's work but nothing like all that felting would have. For a tree, we found a 2 foot tall fake for about 5 dollars- cant beat that.

So, with no further ado:

Week 1

Tree- Creation
An apple- Adam and Eve
Stars- Abrahams's Promise
Ram- Offering of Issac
Ladder- Jacob's Ladder
Boat- Noah's Ark
Rainbow Coat- Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

Week 2

Basket- Miriam and Baby Moses
Burning Bush- Moses and the Burning Bush
Tablets- The 10 Commandments
Trumpet- Joshua and the Battle of Jericho
Sword- Gideon
Wheat- Ruth
Crown- Boy Samuel, Called by God

Week 3

Staff- David and Goliath
Pillars- Solomon
Altar- Elijah bringing Fire from Heaven
Tents- Hezekiah
Whale- Jonah and the Whale
Tongs- Isaiah's Vision
Lion- Daniel in the Lion's Den

Week 4

Bone- Ezekiel and the Dry Bones
Wall- Nehemiah Rebuilding Jerusalem
Shell- John the Baptist
Woman with Child- Elizabeth
Lily- Mary
Jars and box- 3 Wise Men

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