Jesse Tree Update #3

This will be the last Jesse Tree update for this year. I’ve got a handful of ornaments cut out, but I just don’t see Boo being ready yet for getting them on the tree. I’ll have to do most of that and then make him cry when I let him hold it and try to put it on the tree. Stay tuned next year, I already have 20 or so patterns picked, designed, and printed out so we’ll work on them during 2011. It will be a fun project, if we do one a week starting in January, we should have them completed by June or so.

Since we’ll already be playing with felt, I think we’ll also work on his quiet book.


Holiday traditions

Do you have holiday traditions?
On Thanksgiving we usually went to my maternal grandparents. It was usually the biggest family gathering we had. One year we had 22 people in my grandparent’s small house.My mom, her two brothers, a couple of spouses, four grandkids, friends and a the grandparents gathered around one long table. It was fun trying to get the butter. I miss family Thanksgiving dinners. This year I stayed home, by myself, with my cats and a cold while Boo and my husband had dinner with his family.

Growing up, we usually cut down a fresh tree in the first or second week of December and decorated it as a family. I loved seeing the familiar ornaments year after year, my favorite were the engraved metal ones that my grandparents would get me every year. Eventually I began to dread those because I no longer went by Debbie, but I still have them and use them and cringe when I pull them out. I was always mystified by families who didn’t up a tree up until Christmas Eve or worse, put it up after the children went to bed. I thought, how sad, it’s a wonderful family activity. Then I had a baby last September. We put up a tree last year because I thought it would be fun for him to stare at the lights but it was work. This year I’m going to wait as long as possible and put the baby play yard gate around it. I may even commit the unthinkable and put it up after he goes to bed. Will that make him more curious about it? If we do put it up, it’s going up in stages, first the tree for a few days, then the lights for a few more and finally the ornaments but only the nonbreakable ones. Between the three cats and Boo there won’t be much of a tree if I don’t.
Does anyone know where I can get indoor barbed wire?


Jesse Tree Update #2

Do you have holiday traditions that have been passed down from your grandparents, parents or other family members? Have you created new traditions with your family? A Jesse Tree advent calendar is a new idea to me that I began to research in this post. After reading and reading and reading and talking, we’ve decided to try this out during our holiday season. Last week I went to GR to find materials for our advent calendar. I happily discovered that Hobby Lobby had felt choices galore and on sale. I stacked and stacked and stacked until the pile was so large that Boo couldn’t resist touching and trying to peel stickers off of them. I was so excited to find as many colors in stock as I did. Boo and I are working on ornaments for our tree.
Here’s our plan so far:

  1. For creation, I’m making a globe. I didn’t like the idea of focusing on just one aspect of creation from Genesis 1.1-2.4.
  2. For Adam and Eve from Genesis 2.7-9 & 18-24, I’m making stick modernish people, so the woman looks like she’s wearing a dress. Not historically accurate, but clearly a man and woman.
  3. For the fall of man, I’m making a generic red fruit as depicted in Genesis 3.1-7 & 23-24
  4. For Noah and the flood, I making a rainbow, see Genesis 6-8.
  5. For the tower of Babel, I’m making a ziggurat/tower. Although the tower represents disobedience, without it we wouldn’t have scattered and developed all the cultures. This story is told in Genesis 11.
  6. For Abraham, I’ve chosen the Star of David because he became the father of many nations, more numerous than the stars., Genesis 12-15.
  7. For Isaac, I’m making a stone altar because he trusted his father and God, Genesis 22.
  8. For Jacob, I love the image of the ladder to represent Jacob’s dreams at Bethel of the stairway to heaven to remind Jacob that in time God would allow him to return home.
  9. For Joseph, I couldn’t use anything but his coat of many colors that became the physical manifestation of his brothers’ jealousy. Joseph’s story is in Genesis 37-45.
  10. I have a cute lion which will either represent the prophesy that a lion from the tribe Judah will rule or Daniel’s obedience and punishment of the lion’s den.
  11. For Moses, I am making two. A basket will represent his mother’s (dis)obedience by hiding him in the river and stone tablets to represent his obedience to God by talking to him on behalf of the people. See Exodus 1, 3, 19 & 20.
  12. For Samuel, I am making a candle to represent the lamp of God that was burning in 1 Samuel 3 when God first spoke to Samuel.
  13. For Ruth and Obed, I’m making a stack of wheat because she obeyed God and stayed with Naomi and allowed themselves to be redeemed by Obed after working his fields. See the book of Ruth for this story.
  14. For Jesse, I am making a sheep as he had many flocks his sons had to care for. In 1 Samuel 16, Jesse says he has one more son in the fields with the sheep.
  15. For David, I am making a slingshot to represent his obedience in the face of certain defeat when he went up against Goliath told in 1 Samuel 17.
  16. For Solomon, I am making a crown because he was a wise king, see 1 Kings 3.
  17. For Isaiah, who foretold the Messiah in Isaiah 9, I’m making a scroll with Emmanuel, God with us embroidered on it.
  18. For Jonah, I’m making a whale to remind us of the cost of disobedience with the possibility of redemption when we seek forgiveness. See the book of Jonah.
  • Pictures of finished ornaments and at least 6-8 more symbols to come . . .

I originally thought to glue them down because I didn’t want to invest too much time in something that may not stick as a tradition, but after seeing the sites I’ve linked below, I’ve decided to sew them by hand or machine depending on the size of the pieces. Serendipity has lovely ornaments that I looked at when deciding that my shapes would look like. I linked to the general topic rather than one post because the ornaments span five posts. From this gallery of ornaments, I found a slide show of ornaments (52 images). I’m considering sewing my ornaments down to leaves as well, but I’m not sold on the holly tree look. I love the stitching detail and the idea of the same base on each ornament to bring a unified look to my tree. I love the 3D and texture variety in materials of the ornaments I’ve seen, but for ours I like the simplicity of felt ornaments that will pack flat at the end of the year. I like continuity of materials from one ornament to the next. If I made one from modeling clay, my brain would want them all to be like that. I don’t have enough clay in my stash for that kind of project, nor do I have the time to make a 3D tree and hangers. I can almost guarantee that my ornaments won’t be sewn to leaves this year, but I’m making them to a similar size, around three inches high, so that in the future if I decide to create a base it will be easier.


Jesse Tree for Advent Season

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. has recipes, online games, crafts and printables for each day counting down to Christmas.