Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude Tree

Let me start by saying I don't believe thankfulness should be confined to November or that we should only turn our thoughts to gratitude because Thanksgiving is approaching. I believe an attitude of gratitude is directly linked to the habit of happiness, and that is how I try to live my life. Many many years ago, during a difficult time, I told myself to find something to be happy about every day, no matter how small, and then write it down. When you turn this into practice, it becomes a habit of the very best kind. Thankfulness is there at the core of me; I recognize my life is full of loveliness, both big and small. I no longer need to write it all down.

But because we are hosting Thanksgiving this year, I wanted a centerpiece that visually represented in some way this life full of reasons to be thankful. So I decided upon a tree. I picked up a fallen branch in the yard, stripped it of its dead leaves, and placed it in a clean glass jar, held in place by pebbles and stones. (The bag of pebbles--the only purchase I made for this project--cost about $2 at a craft store. The larger stones at the top are from the beach.)

Using the maple leaf template I traced for the thankful banner, I sized them to fit some tags I already had (bought in an office supply store) and sandwiched the tag inside two leaves.

I had to cut the tag so it tapered, and the leaves are printed on and cut from brown Kraft card stock.

Once the glue dried, they were ready to be written upon and hung on the branches. If you want to make your own, the PDF file with the smaller leaves is here. The left leaves are a mirror image of the ones on the right, so when you cut and sandwich, the cutting lines will be hidden. You also could simplify this by punching a hole in a single leaf to tie a string on.

The tree sits in the middle of our table, with leaves and a metallic Sharpie next to it. Anytime someone is moved to do so, he or she can add a leaf to the tree.

"The house"
I think I'll also be using this leaf template to make our place cards for the dinner table. If our guests want to, they can add their leaves to the tree with something they are thankful for written on it.

For big things and small--the house and Legos, my marriage and coffee, the people in our family and imaginary friends--we are thankful, every day.


Kara said...

Love this. Thanks for sharing.

Lori said...

aw — love it!

Bells said...

this is such a stunningly simple and wonderful idea. I really love it. And the kids get to be thankful and have something tangible as a reminder of what they're grateful for. Just wonderful.

I like imaginary friends too and am thankful for them. :-)

Michelle said...


I used acorns instead of stones to hold our stick tree in place. We are never short on acorns here. We're making the leaves today out of autumnish watercolor paintings the girls made last week.