I have always been fascinated by advent calendars. I have memories of several paper advent calendars over the years. One was a village that had little flaps to open numbered for each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25. One year we had a nativity scene with flaps and another year we had one that had little chocolates in each day, of course we ate the chocolates that year and I have no further memories of that one. At least one was stored in the Christmas box because I recall it surfacing year after year.
Once I became an adult and was on my own, I stopped counting down to Christmas but the love of advent calendars didn’t fade. In 2006 I purchased a cross-stitch calendar with ornaments at a local flower shop turned seasonal Christmas shop. I was unable to start the project until I finished another one already in progress. In Feb. 2008 I began working on it and was hoping to finish it for Boo to use this year. I took in on vacation with us and worked on it until I discovered a glaring error. Demoralized, I began carefully ripping stitches out to get it to a point where I could fix it. Small errors abound with little impact, but adding 10 extra stitches into all the rows near the right edge of the calendar is a huge problem for me. Ripping stitches takes more time than adding stitches, maybe next year we’ll have the calendar. The pictures is the cover art from the package, what it should look like, bot what it currently does look like.
Either last year or the year before I stumbled upon the concept of a “Jesse Tree”. I admit the idea intrigued me even though I was unfamiliar with it. Using the following sites, I was able to piece together the understanding of how it works:
During the Advent Season, which varies from 23 to 28 days depending on the year, children learn/review the life and ancestors of Jesus as well as important events from Adam in the Old Testament all the way through to Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus in the New Testament. Each day has a Scripture reading and a symbol to remind us of the reading. For example, creation is day one and can be symbolized by stars, sun, moon, earth, a dove or whatever symbol causes one to think of the creation of all things. Each of the above documents seems to have different symbols listed so there is no standardization.
While looking up Jesse Tree in various searches, I happened across a photograph of a relief sculpture called “Relief of Tree of Jesse” in Cathedral St. Peter, Worms, Germany which apparently depicts the lineage of Christ back to Jesse, the father of David. While searching for more info on that I found other artwork depicting the ancestor’s of Christ and also referred to as Jesse Trees. While Wikipedia is not the end all for research purposes, it shows several interesting photos with brief descriptions of some of the works. So, Jesse Trees aren’t new, just being displayed in a new form.
Some families incorporate Jesse Trees into traditions by printing the symbols on paper, putting the Scripture passage on the back, coloring the front, cutting them out, and making them into ornaments to hang on an artificial table-top tree. Others purchase fancy ornaments to add to an existing Christmas tree. Still others will carefully craft ornaments by hand from materials that speak to the symbol, a wooden ark for Noah, a clay tablet for Moses and the commandments, and a tiny manger for baby Jesus. I’m somewhere in the middle. While paper is the simplest, I have a wee one and paper won’t survive the day let alone the year unless I laminate them and I’m not sure I’m fully committed to this tradition to laminate scraps of paper. If paper is the medium of choice, I’d rather wait until Boo can draw and color his own ideas. I don’t think I have time to hand make special wooden ones, but I did contemplate cookie cutters, dough and a bit of paint. This plan would put all the work on me without much for Boo to do.
After some thinking, my favorite idea was knitting and/or crocheting them, but again with the deadline looming that felt like an impossible task. November 28 is the start of Advent this year and I just don’t have the time. If I turned out one a day (and that’s a big if to make a crochet apple takes me 45 min. uninterrupted), I might be able to complete them but it would be at the expense of my other holiday projects. I have tentatively settled on simple, flat, felt ornaments with a felt tree or some sory. I think I can cut out and glue at least 5 a day even with Boo’s help. I have to get supplies, so the project can’t start until Sat. most likely. I’ll cut and put drops of glue on and he can stick things down. I am sure I could reuse these in other projects if we move to a different medium another year or if the tradition just doesn’t work for us. When Boo is older, I’ll give him the opportunity to decide if he wants symbols made from different materials or if he likes what I made this year, assuming they turn out and stand the test of time.
While this last link isn’t specific to Jesse’s tree, it does have some neat Advent ideas. There is a mixture of secular and religious activities. About.com has recipes, online games, crafts and printables for each day counting down to Christmas.