Eleven years ago my boys were two, three and six years old. I joined a local group who wanted to celebrate Advent with our families and create handmade ornaments for our individual Jesse Trees. There were 25 of us well-meaning moms. Each assigned one day–one ornament, we agreed to make 25 identical ornaments so that when we all got together at the end of November, we could swap them and each have 25 different hand-made ornaments.

Do you smell this recipe for disaster?

It was the worst way to welcome the season of Advent.

Being short of attention span, low on patience and high on hot glue I remember making 25 lambs out of cotton and maybe toothpicks. Rushing around over Thanksgiving.


One sweet mom somehow convinced herself that she had time to cross stitch 25 angel ornaments. Cross Stitch! I still admire her ambition. We’ll go to great lengths to teach our children the real meaning of Christmas.

She came that day full of apology and guilt because only a few ornaments were completed. We were sent home with directions on how to finish up her work and a copied paper print-out stapled together, with daily readings that went along with the Jesse Tree. Bless it. It was 2003 y’all. This is how things were done.


And secretly? This is horrible, HORRIBLE for me to say, but because 25 people made the ornaments, each a different scale and skill level and color scheme–I couldn’t bear to use the motley crew of unmatching ornaments for more than that first year. I am THE WORST. It was my first attempt at a Jesse Tree and I never did one again. It was too much work. I lost that paper printout and I figured only organized, good moms with clean cars did things like this with their kids–and this was light years before Pinterest.


And just like how maternity clothes have come so far now that my childbearing years are over. Now there’s a beautiful hardback book with daily readings for you at Christmas. Our family read The Greatest Gift together last year and we plan to again this year.

greatest gift

And let me tell you, to walk through Advent with Ann Voskamp is to read The Greatest Story Ever Told written in the words of one of the greatest storytellers of our time. Ann, who reminded us all to count the gifts now reminds us how to unwrap The Greatest Gift.

unwrapping the greatest gift


This year, there’s a family read aloud edition — a keepsake hardback book full of beautifully illustrated photos, and a plethora of tools to encourage and guide you through Advent with your family. What I would have done for this 11 years ago. This book is selling like crazy and for good reason, families have been looking for a book like this for ages. Seriously, y’all get everything. Even Pinterest.

If you purchase one thing this season for your family, I hope it’s this book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.


With either book you can access free printable ornaments for your Jesse Tree (that look great together and only take a few minutes to tie on some string!).

jesse tree

May your season be long on wonder, short on ‘to-dos’ and full of anticipation.

May you find true rest, true life and the one true Gift.

our story

Happy Thanksgiving, friends…

Find free resources, encouragement and more about The Greatest Gift here.

And free ornaments for the kids, or coloring pages, just to print out and hang on the tree. Done! Beautiful! All free at




 It’s an honor to share this post about an author and books I deeply love on behalf of its sponsor, Tyndale House.