The Waiting Tree: Our December Tradition

I know this may seem like a premature holiday post, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Believe me, you will be thankful for a little lead time on this one! I want to share with you a family tradition in our home that has become a treasure. We have crafted well over a hundred of these trees and shared them with just as many families. The recipients always tell us how much they love adding this tradition into their homes.

Meaningful family time and creating memories is paramount for most celebrations. Holidays can be demanding and it’s hard to know how to invest our time. Repetition is an anchor for young children and builds a heritage for them as they grow. It is the simple and regular things of life that can be the most memorable.

Our pastor’s wife, Barbara Bull, shared a craft at our mom’s group that truly changed our home. The “Waiting Tree” was a simple devotional tool that they used as their own children were growing up. We have used it for about 17 years and our grandchildren now have one in their home. Starting December 1st, there are 25 readings that each cover a major account from the Bible; from Creation to the birth of Christ. As we are waiting for Christmas, we congregate around our tree to review these timeless events.

We gather, young and old:

We gather our children around, wiggles and movement are always part of the ritual. Prayer and singing one or two Christmas carols start out our time together. Daddy reads the story and hands shoot up. Everyone wants to guess what the corresponding symbol is. The person who correctly guesses the symbol gets to hang it on the tree with a safety pin.

Through the years our Waiting Tree time has taken on its own personality. Our children have memorized the symbols to go with each passage. They can tell us the whole line up for the week. Several of the children have made a game in the placement of the symbols. The coat of many colors may be placed over the top of Adam or the fruit might be placed over the candle to “roast it”. We allow these little diversions because it doesn’t hinder the teaching of the Word. They listen to the Bible truth but get a little crazy with the symbol placement. To finish our evening, we recite Luke 2 in the King James Version as is a longstanding tradition.

The Waiting Tree opened the door for our family to have a regular family worship time. We struggled to keep our children’s interest in previous attempts at a devotional time. The Waiting Tree readings were short enough to hold attention. Bible time became do-able for us knowing that we just had to do 25 days of readings. Our children LOVED the Waiting Tree and we decided it would be an annual tradition. The Waiting Tree was a seed which the Lord grew in my husband’s heart. We not only committed to an annual event but, we began year round family worship. Consistent time together reading God’s Word brought us all closer together.

Where can you get a Waiting Tree?

There are many different options for creating a “Waiting Tree” of your own. This really is an old time craft project. I love our Waiting Tree and we don’t plan to ever let it go. I also don’t have plans to mass produce it. Making the Waiting Tree symbols with your children can be a fun Advent activity. Gathering a group of moms together to work on this project is super fun! (Make sure everyone brings cookie sheets to transport their finished symbols home as they dry) The first year is definitely the most work. Your investment will be appreciated! If you want more ideas, spend some time on Pinterest. A Jesse Tree is very similar though the readings will likely not be correlated with the booklet we have made.

Enter to win a hand-made (by me) Waiting Tree!

You can download the Waiting Tree booklet for free when you sign up for my e-mail list. Your name will also be entered to win a hand-made Waiting Tree, made by me, to use with your family.

*If you have already signed up for Tending Fields e-mails, then you will receive the Waiting Tree booklet in your e-mail and will be automatically entered to win.

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