Advent goes best when I keep my expectations low – that’s actually true of all holidays at our house. We’re one day behind on our Jesse Tree and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, and nearly a week behind on Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent. But it doesn’t matter one bit because Advent is a time to anticipate the coming of Jesus, so simply enjoying the celebration is enough.
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We’ve come up with a good rhythm. On school mornings, we gather at the table at 7:30 and read Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. The kids take turns adding an ornament to our Jesse Tree, which is a gangly and rather large branch off a bush in our backyard. I found a tall, square vase at Ross and filled it with ornaments (Katie’s idea) and small white lights. Katie put it together one Sunday and we’ve enjoyed it every day since.
The ornaments we’re using are not the ones that come with the book, but are from a free download Ann Voskamp had on her blog a few years ago. Last winter when Hannah was home visiting, we printed them on cardstock and glued them to felt. I used them during our homeschool time to help the kids memorize the great people and stories leading to Jesus. We hung them on the branches of a metal tree I found at Ross and I was so pleased with the result. They could point to the ornaments in succession saying what each one represented.
Unwrapping the Greastest Gift comes with a download for ornaments that can be printed out and colored by your children (or you). I believe there is also a link to a free download of these ornaments you can access even if you don’t buy the book. I tried finding it this morning on Ann Voskamp’s blog, but wasn’t able to locate it. If anybody finds the free link (the one that doesn’t require a password), please share it in the comments. A Jesse tree is simple. Find a stick, put it in a jar, hang the ornaments and tell the story of who they represent – yesterday we read about Elijah.
In the evening, after dinner is done and pajamas are on, we gather in the family room, turn off all the lights, light a candle, and read a chapter of Jotham’s Journey. Sometimes we can’t stop at one. The fact that we’re so far behind tells you what our evenings have been like. I have no doubt that we’ll finish the book over Christmas break, even if we finish it closer to New Years. Being on schedule doesn’t matter as much as enjoying the story.
All in all, our Advent is wonderfully imperfect, and just right in so many ways. If you have never celebrated Advent, or, if life is flying by and you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late. Find a candle, put it on your table, and read simple Bible readings leading up to Christmas. You can find some ideas in my post, Five Tips for a Joyfully Imperfect Advent.
Two more days and the children are on break. The big kids are wrapping up finals today and Russ is finishing grading his students’ projects. This morning is Eby’s school concert; he decided to dress up and even wear a navy blazer. It’s going to be fantastic.
Have a wonderful day, friends.
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