I’m sorry my postings have not been regular since Thanksgiving but I’ve been busy decorating the house for the holidays, shopping for presents and writing all of my Christmas cards. As you can see, I’ve been a busy boy. I love this time of year. Last year we had snow but I doubt we will have any this year—instead, I think it is going to continue raining like it has been for the last two weeks.
The tree is about eight feet tall and decorated in white and blue along with elves, snowballs, ribbons, beads, and glass icicles hung here and there. Although I don’t usually like blinking lights, I have to deal with them this year since I can’t get them to stop.
Here are some photos of my two nativity scenes. One sits beside the tree in the front window so people can see it as they pass by the house and the other one is beside the fireplace where the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.
I found a unique way to hang my Jesse Tree ornaments that I made several years ago by placing them on my Chinese screen. For those of you who don’t know what a Jesse Tree is, it is another way to count down the days until Christmas. It traces the genealogy of Jesus Christ and tells the story of God's salvation plan from creation and throughout the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit."
Each day of Advent a homemade ornament is added to the Jesse Tree, or, in this case, already hung on a screen. The back of each ornament has a Bible reference and the front of the ornament has a symbol; each represents a prophecy foretelling the arrival of Christ.
Each evening, I turn over one ornament and read the Bible scripture until the last ornament is turned over on the evening of December 24th—the night of Jesus Christ’s birth.
Of course, I keep the traditional Advent Wreath. A candle is lit each Sunday four weeks before Christmas. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Pine cones, flowers, or other greenery used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time of year. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.
My grandmother and my aunt made this snowman with a numbered necklace of small light bulbs that are used to count down the days until Christmas morning. In the hallway, I’ve hung many of the holiday cards I’ve received over the years.