Thursday, December 5, 2013

Having Myself a Crafty Little Christmas

This time of year is inherently wonderful thanks to its religious significance,but also for the generally gracious and giving attitudes it brings out in many people. One of my favorite parts of the season has always been the decorations that illicit such joy and hope in all of us. Wreaths and holly on store fronts, garland and snowflakes draped everywhere, and ALL OF THE LIGHTS! White lights should grow on trees. Just saying.

Sadly, when my family moved from Maryland to Florida, one box that got lost contained some of the items I looked most forward to seeing each year – a couple of wooden reindeer, a Precious Moments nativity, and a countdown calendar with a small stuffed bear that moved among numbered pockets each day that brought us closer to Christmas. My sister and I used to fight every morning over which of us would get to move the bear and, oddly, it is one of my fondest memories. I want my children to someday have the same experience of fighting over Christmas countdowns (is that weird of me?) and for me to smile while assigning them odd and even days to end the argument.

The logical solution was that I make my own calendar to replace the one that was lost. One bear, 24 pouches, not too bad. I can handle that. And then came Pinterest. Evil Pinterest. In my browsings one day I stumbled upon something called a Jesse Tree. It is a Christmas countdown based on Bible verses and key people leading up to the birth of Jesus. I was drawn to it because it will give my children a symbol to attach to different bible verses and adds to the Advent focus on spiritual preparation for Christmas. This website was very helpful by explaining the purpose of the tree, the construction of it all, and her links to other resources helped me design my ornaments.

Basically, the Jesse Tree is like the countdown I had in mind from my childhood, but on crack and steroids and skittles. Midway through the project I thought maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew; after hours upon hours of working on it I was ready to be done! I persevered, though, and completed it this afternoon. It was a “praise Jesus!” moment when I got to hang it on the coat closet door in place of our autumn wreath.

I had briefly looked at Etsy to see how much such a Jesse Tree would cost to purchase, and the one that I liked best was completely hand-sewn and went for almost $300.00. I was a little stunned at the price – I mean, it is felt and embroidery thread. WELL, I now understand the logic behind the cost, and let me tell you that no amount of money can tear my newly made calendar from my grasp! I spent too much time cutting and sewing and pricking my fingers and getting cramps in my elbow and back to ever part with it. It had better not ever get lost in a move and my children had better cherish it and treasure it and treat it very well, or else I will be hanging all the ornaments on the tree myself! Okay, maybe I won’t be that mean, but this was a lot more work than I bargained for. Take a look-see for yourself:

I learned how to properly chain stitch and back stitch.
I freehand stitched that!

First go-around with a satin stitch.

French knots in the house!
Here is what the tree looks like on December 5th.

The back of each ornament is labeled and there are Bible verses assigned to each one as a daily meditation.

Full size shot from December 5th. 

Here is what the tree will look like all filled with ornaments!

I am looking forward to December 24th!


  1. Wow! That is beautiful! You did a great job and I see you got those French knots down. :) I would be proud of it, too. It better not get lost in a move.

  2. I finally understand now ... When God bestowed talents of craftiness upon you ... there wasn't any left for me ... You got an unfair amount of talent, girl! I LOVE this!!! I have an affinity for advent calendars and this one is truly 'adordable'!!