Celebrating Christmas

There is an interesting discussion going on in the Raising Olives Community about celebrating Advent.  Our family is just learning and deciding what and how we want to celebrate this special time of year, so I’d love to hear your input on how you celebrate the coming of Jesus, our Lord and Savior to live and eventually die among men.

Our family has decided to do a (simple) Jesse Tree this year.  If you are unfamiliar with this (as I was), it consists of a scripture reading each night beginning Sunday 4 weeks before Christmas (that was 2 days ago, but it’s not too late to catch up).  The children make an ornament to illustrate each reading and hang in on the Jesse Tree.  The tree can be a simple drawing of a tree with paper ornaments or as elaborate as a full size evergreen with hand crafted decorations.

Here are some free resources online for help with creating your own Jesse Tree:

  • Here are instructions to make an elaborate felt tree with ornaments created with felt, wood-burning, sewing and other techniques.
  • Scroll down to Celebrating Advent in the Home and this is includes the scripture reading schedule and printable ornaments for children to color.
  • This  site includes a reading schedule and has full-color, printable ornaments.

Please note that I’ve not looked over these links thoroughly, so please check and make sure that the resources they offer are in line with your family’s beliefs concerning this time of year.

Our family will be doing the scripture readings and our children will make their own ornaments using some of the above ideas as a guide.

So click over, read and share your plans for Advent.  I’d also love to hear about your other traditions both holy and secular, your ideas and the ways that you celebrate and make this a special time of year.  I started a new discussion for favorite Christmas traditions and shared several of ours (we have some strange and wonderful traditions), so go check ours out and share yours. Want more details?  Feel free to ask.

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30 Responses to Celebrating Christmas
  1. Dawn
    December 1, 2009 | 12:37 pm

    Kimberly,
    Here’s a post I did about our family worship during advent. We’ll sing different Christmas hymns and instead of The Advent Book, Michael wants to do an Advent Bible drill… finding passages containing prophecies concerning Christ and their fulfillment. We’ve also made candy trees for the children to take their nightly treat from. Maybe I’ll get a post up on these things soon.

    http://homeschooldawn.blogspot.com/2008/12/advent.html

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  2. Kelly @ Wisdom Begun
    December 1, 2009 | 2:23 pm

    I love seeing that little baby floating around on your sidebar. 🙂

    We have always talked about doing a Jesse tree but have never made the time to learn how it should be done. Maybe next year. Thank you for the links! They are helpful.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Me too about the baby. Helps me remember what’s going on inside. 🙂 Thank you.

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  3. Dawn
    December 1, 2009 | 5:26 pm

    I had never heard of a Jesse Tree. I love this idea. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. TrenchMommy
    December 1, 2009 | 8:19 pm

    Never heard of this before, but I printed off the verses and will look over it tomorrow. Oh, and on a BF note, have you thought of doing your links to open in a new window so they don’t take someone away from you blog? I like that because it makes it so easy to get back to the blog I was reading. Just a thought!

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    Charlotte Reply:

    You can rigth-click the link and open the link a new window/thingy (I don’t knov the English word – maybe tag) in the meny that pops up.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Mandy. I have an option to have things open in a new window, but often forget to check the box.

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  5. Lisa
    December 1, 2009 | 8:52 pm

    I’ve gotten a lot of flack for this one but we do 3 gifts per child. Symbolizing the 3 gifts Jesus was given by the wise men. Some people think we’re being too frugal, it’s worked well for our family though, as we really try to emphasize the fact that we give gifts to celebrate Jesus’ birth and because we love each other, rather than Santa overload.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I like the idea of 3 gifts per the wise men. Don’t let people give you flack, we give each of our children one gift. 🙂

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    JoyFilledMom Reply:

    I love this! We are bonbarded with too much ‘stuff’ and I have been talking to my hubby about doing fewer presents. Maybe he will go for this!

    It is hard for us because we both LOVE to give to everyone!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I like the idea of 3 gifts just like the wise men. Our children love to give gifts so we let them pick a gift for one of their siblings in addition to making things for other family.

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  6. Jama
    December 2, 2009 | 12:30 am

    Ok, I want to know what “jammie-drills” are. 🙂

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    This may deserve it’s own post, but because I’ve been very slow in posting lately here it is in a nut shell. Posted about this today. 🙂

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  7. Charlotte
    December 2, 2009 | 4:49 am

    We don’t have a Jesse tree – a tradition totally unknown to me (Denmark) but every yeat I split up our big living-room window in small squares with bamboo sticks. As many squares as there are days in advent (not counting sundays) every day one child dravs a bag with an ornament inside (random exept for Santa’s day, Mary’s birth, Lucia day and the first day of snow). In this way our romm becomes more pretty as Christmass grows nearer. Also we make a “gift basket” We each day think of a thing to do as a gitf to God (eg. smile at the angry busdriver, answer kindly all day) and if you have done what you set out to do, you put a small gift in the basket that night after dinner. It’s nice to notice how this makes us “nicer people”
    Happy advent 😉

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I love the idea of focusing on a gift to God each day. Thanks.

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  8. Andrea
    December 2, 2009 | 10:48 am

    The Jesse Tree is a good idea—I had never heard of it. Kimberly, I would value your advice since you are a Christian—what would you say to a Christian who has for whatever reason become convinced that Christians must celebrate the Jewish holidays, put mezzuzahs (sp.?) on their doorposts, and so on? He wants to celebrate Hannukah but we aren’t/never have been Jewish, the kids are starting to ask questions, and I don’t know what to say/do!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I emailed you about this. 🙂

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  9. Aundrea Stewart
    December 2, 2009 | 8:41 pm

    I am new to your blog and loving it!!! One of the traditions that my kiddos just love about Christmas is baking a birthday cake for Jesus. After our Christmas Day meal, we all gather and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!!! They talk more about this and baking goodies for our neighbors than anything else!! As far as gifts, we usually only give 3 gifts per child (we have 4). This year, however, we a giving them each 1 nice gift and then putting together a basket of goodies for them all to share. We want the focus to be on Jesus and thankfullness- not the overload of “stuff” that we already have enough of!!

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  10. Joy
    December 2, 2009 | 9:53 pm

    KIMBERLY!!! How did I miss the pregnancy announcement?!?!?!?!?! I just saw your ticker on the sidebar and about squealed!!!

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yay! Thanks Joy.

    Does this mean that Raising Olives gets to move to your expectant moms section?? oops, just looked and you’ve changed things around. Guess I have to wait until the baby is born to move to the baby club section of your blogroll. 🙂

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  11. Jenny
    December 2, 2009 | 11:38 pm

    We do an advent wreath and take turns reading scripture and lighting the candles each night for the month- it’s a tradition I’ve carried over from my childhood, and I love it! What a great way to keep the season in perspective 😉

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  12. Jamie
    December 3, 2009 | 10:08 am

    Ha, ha, ha! We only do one present per child, too. Well, plus they each get a stocking (which frequently consists of new school supplies, one or two small toys, a new coloring book, those types of things). On Christmas morning, we let everyone wake up on their own. Nobody is allowed to wake anyone else up! It’s the rule :). Once everyone is awake we sit down and read the Christmas story from Luke and open our stockings. Then we eat breakfast (we have an egg bake and a praline French Toast bake, prepared the night before, in the oven during the reading/stocking time). After breakfast, we read the story of St. Nick (put out by the Voice of the Martyrs) and then pray for Christian children who live in countries where it is dangerous to celebrate Christmas. THEN each child opens their gift. After all of that, we head to Chris’ parents house where we have a Birthday Party for Jesus (pizza for lunch, cake and ice cream, some games, etc.). We have not celebrated Advent, other than doing the five candles. Interesting! I had heard of Jesse Trees, but never knew what they were. We also celebrate Hanukkah with my family, which makes December a really busy month!

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  13. Tonya
    December 5, 2009 | 9:28 am

    In the past we’ve read and really enjoyed the following advent stories: Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels by Arnold Ytreeide. Jotham’s Journey was our absolute favorite. Warning, they can be a little intense for very young children. I remember that year we visited a Walk through Bethlehem that was sponsored at one of the local churches and I had one little guy that was absolutely terrified of the Roman guards!

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  14. Katie from NC
    December 5, 2009 | 1:42 pm

    Does anyone know where to get instructions on how that felt Jesse tree was done? I LOVE it!

    I’ve been wanting to do a Jesse tree for a few years but didn’t find one that I liked enough to put a lot of effort into. I am wanting a reusable one that becomes traditional, like an advent calendar. I have been googling and can find that felt Jesse tree photo, but no site that says who did it or how to replicate it.

    I may just have to figure it out myself from the photo…

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Sorry I can’t help on directions for the felt Jesse Tree. It is lovely.

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  15. My Boaz's Ruth
    December 5, 2009 | 9:24 pm

    We’re still struggling to get properly started with our Jesse Tree 🙁 But I see it as a starting on December 1st thing, not tied in with Advent and the “4 Sundays”

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I think it depends on which link you go with. The readings that we are doing start on the Sunday 4 weeks before Christmas.

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  16. L2L
    December 11, 2009 | 8:48 am

    I’m linking for you so resources I have posted on my blog about ADVENT and JESSE TREES. Hope you enjoy!!!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you!

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  17. Elizabeth
    January 23, 2011 | 7:27 am

    I blogged extensively BC (before Christmas) about celebrating Advent, how we celebrate Christmas, etc. I also shared about our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions. Here is the link to one of those posts, if you did not see it.

    http://yes-theyre-all-ours.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-we-celebrate-advent.html

    We are big fans of the Jotham’s Journey Advent storybook collection. I plan to give another of those books away next November, so that a reader will have it in time for Advent readings, which start on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If I forget, and you are interested, remind me! 🙂

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