this season i really tried to celebrate the old fashioned way. i was really inspired by this book.
maria von trapp (sound of music? that's the one.) writes all about how christian holidays were celebrated in the "old country"...which is, i guess, switzerland. her perspective was so fresh for me. apparently how people used to do it was instead of starting christmas celebrations the day after thanksgiving, they celebrated advent... it was a time of preparation, mental and spiritual, for the coming of Christ. so, like a mini-lent, you would fast and pray and slowly build up the anticipation for christmas. then, when Christmas came, it was a full blown feast and a huge party that lasted until the epiphany, which is jan 12, when we celebrate when the three wise men came to see baby Jesus. i always hated how burnt out i felt on christmas by the time christmas came. and i always got frustrated at how infrequently i made the spiritual connection of what christmas was all about. so i decided to give it a shot this year in hopes of keep our spirits bright for the whole season.
one way we celebrated advent was by making a jesse tree. with the help of this amazing resource, we learned all about how to make and assemble our tree. the jesse tree is meant to replace your christmas tree for the first few weeks of advent... it's barren and dry and day by day you add life to the tree by placing an ornament on a branch that symbolizes the story of salvation, starting with creation, ending with the birth of Jesus and the symbols of His glory, right up until the eve of Christmas eve. every ornament has a scripture reading, so every night we gathered around our little stick tree, put up an ornament and read the passages. this was such an awesome way to reconnect to the Story, to be reminded of the great plan the Father had for us, and to see His coming, little by little, through the whole story of scripture. also, we did feel really connected to the true purpose of the holiday, and the anticipation did build. it was really great and i am excited to continue to make this a fike family tradition from now on.
also, the stick tree part is significant because when you fill up your jesse tree, you replace it with your christmas tree. instead of a dry branch, sort of thirsting for Christ, the tree is full of life and is evergreen, symbolizing His gift of life to us. symbols everywhere... i love it.
we also kept an advent wreath that we lit every night before dinner. this was really special, too. there are lots of great prayers you can find for each week of advent, all emphasising Christ's coming and helping us to anticipate it.
so anyway, here is our awesome little tree.