Friday, November 19, 2010

A Note on Jesse Trees

Hand-made and well-loved
I read somewhere that the idea of doing a Jesse Tree was causing some stress. Let me just say first, that I never had a Jesse Tree growing up. Had never even heard of one! It wasn't until my SIL made one for Husband and I for our wedding that I even knew what such a thing was.

So, my introduction to the Jesse Tree idea was a late one. And you would think that being given one would mean there was nothing to freak out about. Hah! You don't know me very well. The depths I can plumb for reasons for freaking out are vast and wide, my friend! Are we doing this the right way? Do we light the Advent Wreath before or during? Is there a prayer to say before reading the verse? Should the Jesse Tree reading take the place of night-time prayers or should it be in addition to? Etc...

Let me just put your minds at ease... there is no "right way" to do a Jesse Tree. Being a private devotion, it is what you need it to be. Also... and it took me several years to figure this out... there is no one particular set of Jesse Tree readings. There are so many to choose from. Some of them will have the same images, some will be different. This year, while I tend to making some repairs to our original gifted Jesse Tree, we will be using Ann's chosen Bible verses and the lovely images contained within (although it doesn't appear to be available anymore). My girls have also requested that one of these years we include more women of the Old Testament in our Jesse Tree readings. And you know can do that! Isn't it great?

Also, with little ones, don't worry about trying to do all of the readings from the Bible. Some of them were rather lengthy (at least they seemed like it to our little ones). When mine were littler, we used to read the stories out of a Bible storybook we had or sometimes, Husband would just tell them the story of the person who's figure was being placed that night.

For anyone just starting out with a Jesse Tree, do yourself a favor and use a prepared one. You can make changes once you get going. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Updated to add:
Vee over at Paper Dali has free printable Jesse Tree ornaments you can color yourself

From Aquinas and More:
Jesse Tree Kit
Jesse Tree Ornament Kit

Jesse Tree Advent Activity Kit

Books from Amazon:
Let's Make A Jesse Tree ~This is the book ours was made from. This is not a kit. These are just instructions.
Jesse Tree Devotions: A Family Activity for Advent ~includes a poster and pictures to cut out and stick on
The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean ~No ornaments with this book! We have read it and didn't much care for the way the old man treated the young boy at times but you might like it.
The Jesse Tree: A Family Craft for the Story of Advent ~Not a kit, just a resource for making your own.


  1. Thanks for the post, Charlotte. It's very hard for any mom not to get stressed (freaked) out about doing the right things the right way. I am also one of them. I don't think we'll ever make a Jesse tree simply because we have other Advent traditions that we like and do every year. I've tried adding in other things only to find them half accomplished. I'm glad, though, that you took the time to give us some perspective. It sure helps to know there is no one right way to do anything and Jesse Trees are one of those things.:) Have a beautiful Feast of Christ the King and a great start to Advent!

  2. Thank you so much for this post, Charlotte. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only momma that finds new ways to freak out over the small stuff. We have been doing a Jesse Tree of some sorts for the past few years and every year I think I need to revamp it a little.

    BTW, I saw Ann's recent post on updating the Jesse Tree e-book and making it available again on Nov.27
    here is the post:

  3. I'm on of those to be easily freaked out over something like this. I try to do it my best the first time around.

    Last year, we did it for the first time. They each wanted to make their own ornaments. Half way through, with the circumference of the ornaments being so big!, you could have wallpapered my entire gameroom upstairs. We stopped halfway through...the kids had lost interest.

    I felt bad for stopping. I didn't want to push them or keep the stress heaped on especially during Advent.

    Not sure if we are going to do it this year. If we do, I plan on taking your advice and starting with a do-it-yourself kit.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Funny thing you should mention your daughter wanting to include more women from scripture in your readings. Last year my daughter and I followed the readings from this advent calendar

    The first fourteen days of Advent, you will explore what the Scriptures say about fourteen women of the Old Testament and their parallels to Mary. Then you will look more closely at Mary as chosen daughter of Israel, at the Annunciation, and at the Visitation. Finally, you will concentrate on Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as the Catholic Church anticipates his birthday in the so-called O'Antiphons.

    You might find just what you're looking for here.

  5. "The depths I can plumb for reasons for freaking out are vast and wide, my friend!" - you are soooo funny, Charlotte! I hear you.

    I know the JT seems a little fussy, but it is one of the few things that we do besides a wreath and my kids just love all those little symbols and story each night. We do both together, instead of lighting the wreath at dinner, to prevent children from going up in flames at the table. And O, they surely would.

    We light the wreath, sing O Come Emmanuel together, and then daddy tells the story of the symbol from the Children's Bible. Lucky child of the day puts the symbol on, and luckier children light and extinguish the flame(s). I think if you asked it would be my kids favorite memory of Advent/Christmas, and it takes TOPS 15 mintues.

  6. Thanks for the post. It can be overwhelming, so we try and keep ours very, very simple. Like so simple that sometimes we forget and do two the next day. Or three. That sort of simple.

    And I agree about the Geraldine M. book. I heard so many things about how fab the book was, and so we got it. But my children did not like how the old man was with the boy, and it really turned them off to it. :(

    We're trying to keep it simple but special this year. :)

    Here's to a happy and simple and holy Advent season!

  7. Vee,
    I just saw Jessica's link to your printable version of the Jesse Tree online so I'm going to add it to my list! My kids were OK with the book. We talked about how elderly people can be grumpy and how we hoped he learned a lesson in the end. I know that my SIL with two young boys was more disturbed by the way he the older character talked to the young boy and I can totally see why.

  8. Oh this post was made for me! I'm in the same boat...never did a Jesse tree growing up, never heard of it until I was an adult! And now that I have a little one and one on the way, I love the idea, but it seems completely overwhelming to me! I think alot of us can relate!

  9. Great post! I think it's amazing how much mother's add stress to their lives trying to make everything perfect when our kids won't remember so much of what we do. That doesn't keep me from wanting to do it all--hopefully my kids will remember enough of the great stuff to make it all worth it! I'm posting the Jesse Tree reflections that I use on my blog tomorrow.

  10. Thank you for this post, Charlotte. I've always wanted to do a Jesse Tree with my children, but it just hasn't worked out. (Or I've been too overwhelmed with making my own ...) I did see Vee's printable ornaments, and I think I might have my children do those. At least it's a start. I just ordered that book, before reading your little review, so we will see if it works or not ...


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