I just wanted to share something that Home Education has allowed us the time to do this month. When the boys (and I) were in school, we rarely had the time to instigate many traditions as life was just too full already. Since then our pace of life is so much less frantic that we really do have time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. We also have time to stop and consider what is important. And at this time of year, what is important to us as a Christian family is that the true meaning of Christmas is not lost amidst all the commercialism and fables. Don't get me wrong: we love the gift-sharing, feasting and sparkly lights as much as anyone, but without "the Reason for the Season" it can all seem a bit flat and futile. So I was looking for ways to help the boys look a bit deeper. Enter the Jesse Tree. I had not heard of it before, but in a Christian Home Ed group online, many people were talking about doing them by way of keeping their focus right. Some friends kindly filled me in and sent me some links - and we have adopted it into our family's celebrations.
For those who don't know, the Jesse Tree is based on a prophecy in the book of Isaiah (from the Bible) that says "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Jesse was the father of David, King of Israel, and Jesus (the branch of new life) came from this family tree.
We chose our 'branch', or small tree (some use actual branches, some draw pictures of trees on paper and use those), and every day in Advent we read a bit of the story of Jesus' ancestors - starting with Creation we remember how through the entire Old Testament the world was waiting for Jesus to be born, just as through Advent we are waiting to celebrate his birthday (and yes, I know it probably wasn't his actual birthday - it's just the day we choose to celebrate it).
So we read a bit from the Bible every day with a prayer, and hang an ornament on our tree/ branch that represents each part of the story. This year our ornaments and readings came from this link that a lovely friend shared. Next year I'm hoping that we might get to make some ornaments out of felt/ Fimo maybe. Anyway, this is our tree, as photographed yesterday...
I'm particularly enjoying how the boys are coming up with their own thoughts on the stories, and am really encouraged that they each have their own faith - it is just lovely to share a family activity like this. Maybe if we weren't home educating we would have found our way to this tradition anyway, but as it is, I'm just so grateful that we have the time to stop and think about what we are actually celebrating. It just makes our lives so rich! Bring on the gifts, feasting and sparkly lights :)