Creating the Mosaic Jesse Tree.
I used to be an artist.
Praise and thanks to God who gave me the passion. And the talent to go along with it.
In high school I honed my painting skills.
And in college I delved into drawing.
I even painted an undersea mural on our basement stairwell during winter break one year.
Then, after I got married but before I had kids (a very small window) I began this mosaic project.
I thought it would be a good idea to spend countless hours tearing paper into teeny tiny pieces then glue them back together on wooden ornaments to depict scenes from the Bible… This was the beginning of my Jesse Tree.
The Jesse Tree is my favorite Advent tradition. Every day of December, we hang an ornament on the tree depicting a certain personage in Jesus’ genealogy.
Then, starting December 17, we peruse the O Antiphons: each celebrating a different name for Jesus. A different way He fulfills the prophesies of the Messiah from the Old Testament.
We finish off with Christmas Eve and Christmas. Days on which we celebrate the closeness of Jesus, the Light of the World, and the incredible joy of His Incarnation.
Every year, I feel the anticipation of swiftly moving through years of Old Testament history, ushering in the coming of the Messiah.
But the years spent handcrafting these ornaments were anything but swift.
Once my first child was born, the long afternoons dedicated to creating visual masterpieces were over. My project quickly lost momentum, and I wondered if I would ever complete it.
But every year, as Advent approached, I would feel my motivation renewed and my enthusiasm and determination to make progress on my Jesse Tree returned.
So I’d pull out my cardstock and my modpodge, my rubber stamps and my India ink, and carve out a few minutes here and there to take baby steps towards completing my ornaments.
One year, disaster struck. In a flurry of post-Christmas cleanup, I stored my ornaments incorrectly. The summer heat rolled in and softened the glue on the completed faces.
As Christmas drew near, I was horrified to open the box to discover the ornaments fused together. Hot tears rolled forth, and disappointment choked up my throat. I thought I had lost years of dedicated work.
I cried out to Mother Mary and instantly felt a wave of calm and reassurance wash over me. I spent hours coaxing the pairs of ornaments apart, softening the glue over a steaming pot of water. By the end of the day tears were flowing again. This time, tears of relief and gratitude to Our Lady for restoring my ornaments to me with minimal damage.
Finally, five years after my first sketch, the end came into sight. My youngest was almost 2 years old. She played independently for short stretches, and for longer ones with her 3 year old sister. My oldest was 5, and had the patience and ability to help me. He ripped paper, cleaned stamps, and opened string cheese for his sisters.
After 5 long years, I finished the project of my dreams. I’m not gonna lie, a few more tears were shed. Tears of love for the beautiful turnout of years of patient work.
I guess you could say I’m still an artist.
The masterpieces I devote most of my time to were sketched deep within my body. Nurtured and molded every hour of every day. And will remain unfinished until they meet their Creator in Heaven someday. These masterpieces are my children.
They are my life’s work.
But every now and then, I squeeze in a few moments with my paint. My charcoal. My paper and glue.
I may be a little rusty. And my work rolls at a snail’s pace. But the joy of creating is worth every laundry pile left unfolded. Every lost hour of sleep. Every mess created by children unattended for a few minutes.
Purchase the Mosaic Jesse Tree
As excited as I am to display my completed Jesse Tree in my home every year, I’m even more excited to share it with you.
I transformed my ornaments a product available for purchase in my Etsy store. Each set includes 25 cardstock ornaments and a 6×9 booklet with scriptures, reflections, and prayers for each day.
Each day, add one ornament to your tree, hang it from your stairway banister or across your mantle, or tape it to your kitchen window.
I hope you love this Mosaic Jesse Tree, and that it blesses your Advent as much as it blesses mine every year. May your heart overflow with the joy and excitement of the coming of Christ! Amen.
Also check out:
A post that answers the most frequently asked questions about the Jesse Tree ornaments, such as:
- How/where do we hang them?
- Can we laminate them?
- What’s the best way to preserve them?
And gives you my best tips for preserving your set!