I wasn’t raised Catholic and so I missed out on many of the traditions growing up. Once I had children of my own, Christmas took on a whole new meaning. Christmas wasn’t about Santa anymore and became about the birth of the King of the World.
When my children first came home to us, it was the fall; birthdays and Christmas came quickly, so I felt like I was constantly trying to plan for the next big event. They were 3 and 4 at the time, so I felt the need to begin to instill traditions, as they were old enough to understand them. Somehow I had heard about the Jesse Tree and decided to start there. At night after the kids would go to sleep I would make the ornaments out of felt.
Being in survival mode at the time meant some nights I got a few ornaments done, and some nights I’d just get the ornament done that we needed for the next day. I’d love to say it was a huge success and that the kids totally understood salvation history and were prepared for Christ’s birth, but they were 3 and 4 and so we were lucky we knew what the rainbow was on the Noah ornament. Honestly, days would go by without ever hanging an ornament. Some times we’d catch up and do a few in a day and sometimes I’d just give up. But I was glad I had started the tradition and just prayed that the next year we’d get better at it.
Year after year, I’ve attempted the Jesse Tree, only to look at the half-covered tree at on Christmas Day and feel like I’d failed again.
My children are now 10, 9, and 5, and for those of you with little ones at home who feel like you failed at the Jesse Tree this year, please know that this is the FIRST year we’ve ever done the tree daily. And even then, the last 3 days we’ve missed because, as it turns out, I never made all the ornaments — so some days have nothing to show on the tree. This year, the kids actually remind me to do it. We’ve hung it next to the kitchen table, so that’s a good reminder at meals. They can read now, so they take turns doing the readings. It may have taken 6 years to really get going, but that’s OK. The tradition has been started and the seed has been planted. Maybe next year I’ll actually have all the ornaments to hang!
Rest assured, if you have little ones at home, that the time will come when these traditions will come to fruition. Until then, enjoy the awe and wonder on their faces as they gaze at the Christmas lights, and the joy of playing with the nativity sets. Don’t allow the stress of having the perfect Christmas preparation to steal the joy that comes with the birth of the Savior! After all, he was born in a barn. He desires that our hearts be open to receiving his love, joy and peace. And when we share those gifts with our children, we can rest assured that traditions are being made.
Copyright 2017 Courtney Vallejo