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    Books & Reading, Home Education

    In Praise of the Jesse Tree

    December 13, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    And beginning at Moses and all the prophets,
    he expounded unto them in all the scriptures
    the things concerning himself.

    Luke 24:27

    This is our second year using a Jesse Tree. Part of the appeal was to have something to do in the morning while my husband was at work, being that Advent (with the candles and such) has always been his domain. I had heard good things about the Jesse Tree tradition, but I really wasn’t even sure what I was doing when we started. We figured it out as we went along.

    And, oh, what a blessing it has been.

    When else do I walk my children through the entire Gospel in a short 24 days?

    With each story, with each turn of the page, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to His covenant, from Adam and Eve, to Jesse and his son David, and on to Christ … and beyond. When God promised Adam and Even that He would crush the serpent’s head, when He sent redeemer after redeemer to His people to preserve them and make way for the One who would Redeem in full, when He provided a ram for Abraham and promised Him that He wouldn’t be the father of a mere ethnic nation, but of all the nations that Jesus commanded His people to make disciples of — we stand in awe of each reminder that God began a good work in the beginning, and He really will bring it to fulfillment.

    We’ve been using The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean. It sticks pretty closely to Scripture, so I’m happy. Yes, there is a grumpy old man throughout, but isn’t that one of the themes of the many Christmas tales out there? Grumpy-old-man-finds-joy? There is something to that theme, I’m sure.

    We made our own ornaments (I just used black and white clip art and they colored them all in with colored pencils and then we “laminated” them with packing tape), and we’re hanging a new one up each day, on the wall tree Grandma gave us years ago when we were fewer in number.

    It’s a simple tradition, and I love it. I am so grateful to whomever decided that a Jesse Tree was more than a decoration carved on a wall or stained in some glass in a church somewhere, but that we could imitate it in our own homes.

    What about you? Do you Jesse Tree?

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  • Reply ...they call me mommy... December 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about this!! 🙂 I will have to check out that book! We are going through Jotham’s Journey with my hubby this year. 🙂

  • Reply Lisa December 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    This is our first year with The Jesse Tree so we’re just reading the McCaughren book. We’re also working our way through another book called “Countdown to Christmas” which has daily scripture and an Advent related activity. Next year we can graduate to having a Jesse Tree with ornaments. They’ll like that.

  • Reply Anonymous December 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    We have done the Jesse Tree for the past five years, and we LOVE it! For those of you, who would want to have ornaments, and not have to make them yourself, Ann Voskamp has a Jesse Tree devotional that has beautiful stain glass type ornaments. We cut those out, laminated them, and tied some rafia to them. Perfect! It is available for free on her website. These are the ones we use, and the children love knowing them every year. It is a highlight of this season, for sure!

    Julie in St. Louis

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts December 14, 2011 at 2:47 am


    I *think* it might have been you who tipped me off to this in the first place! I know for sure that you inspired me. 🙂

    I must say we are NOT making ornaments daily. Actually, I saved the ornaments we made last year, and used them again this year. We’ll probably make new ones next year. Anyhow, we started off Advent last year by making all of the ornaments in one morning. Then, we hid them away in the little pockets of our Advent calendar and the children take turns pulling one out and hanging it on the tree.

    But you know what? I really couldn’t have handled even something this simple a few years ago. Some of it is the stage you are in. Remember: my youngest is *three*.

  • Reply Kansas Mom December 14, 2011 at 2:43 am

    This is the first of many years when I did not try a Jesse Tree. My children have hated it year after year and most years we ended up abandoning it before Christmas. (Granted, last year I was completely overwhelmed by Second Son’s needs and the year before I was overwhelmed by Second Son’s first trimester.) I decided to give myself a year off, but it’s on the list for next year. I’m debating about the ornaments. In the past the children got tired of making them, but they’ll be a year older next year…I do think it’s a beautiful tradition and one that is valuable for adults as well as children.

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