8 years ago, I unwrapped a lovely metal Advent wreath that my husband had found for me at a local Catholic store that has since closed down. Around the edge were symbols I knew nothing about. Thankfully, it came with a prayer booklet touting “The Jesse Tree.” This stirred some distant memory for me, but I definitely didn’t understand it. And with very young kids at the time, I wasn’t going to have the time to look into it. So, for years, we ignored the booklet. We had the Advent wreath out, but rarely lit it. Again, the little ones.
When my kids were old enough to ask about it, I got moving on seeking that understanding. And I was completely overwhelmed. In fact, I still am. The thought of creating 28 symbols of any kind is so daunting! Even if you just print it out and cut it!
The pressure to keep up with a daily thing that was NOT written specifically to engage children? Also daunting. Even this year, when my kids are all in school, I can already see the days slipping by with no time to reflect on all those beautiful readings that point to the fact that Christ’s coming was always in God’s plan.
While the Jesse Tree still remains a goal of mine, I looked at the beautiful group of moms that I get to call my friends. Collectively, we are worn out and overwhelmed. We want so much to show the beautiful gifts of God to our children, but we also have to take care of the dishes and laundry and squabbles and schooling.
If you’re feeling that way, too, treat yourself to a simpler plan. In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, children ages 3-6 listen to 5 different prophecies about the coming of Christ. To help them reflect, catechists create prophecy cards. They are illuminated or painted scripture cards that go on the prayer table in the Atrium (the name for the space prepared for the kids, like a classroom).
We’ve taken pictures of ours so that you can print them at home. Pick the four that you think your kids will respond to best, and focus on one each week. You can print these images to hang them in your home, to use as inspiration to make your own, or to trace or copy the words. You could even invite the kids to make it a different way each day it makes sense for your family. For instance, one day, trace just the words. Another day, draw what you think of. Another day, trace your drawing, upload it, and print it as a coloring sheet. You could even go on a magazine scavenger hunt for the words or related images, especially on a rainy day.