For many people, the holiday season involves traditions and practices that prompt introspection and inspire gratitude. For my family, a staple in our home is the Thankful Tree. Similar to the Christmas tree, which serves as both an iconic decoration and a tradition, the Thankful Tree is both a Thanksgiving decoration and a practice.
My family and I express our gratitude on little paper tabs, which we then hang upon the branches of the Thankful Tree. My mother started the tradition in our home since we typically host friends and extended family members on Thanksgiving day. All of our guests are welcome to contribute their tabs to the tree.
There are just two simple steps to create your own Thankful Tree:
- Set up the tree.
- If you have a Christmas tree, you can now put it up earlier and use it as a two-for-one holiday decoration! Simply swap out the adornments of your Thankful Tree after Thanksgiving (or leave them there to stay alongside your favorite Christmas ornaments).
- If you do not have a tree, there is no need to purchase one! Simply find a few sticks with branches and place them in a vase, as shown in the image below. It may be helpful to bind their bases with a ribbon so that they stay propped like an upright tree.
- Decorate the tree with statements of gratitude.
- Simply cut out little paper tabs of any shape, and write down things that you are thankful for. Get creative! You can also write down quotes about thankfulness, happy memories of togetherness, or anything that inspires you. Then, simply punch a hole in each tab and use a ribbon to hang them on the tree branches.
- You can also leave out a Sharpie marker and pre-cut tabs for any guests or visitors, welcoming them to write their gratitude and add it to the tree. This serves as a welcoming act of hospitality, inviting guests to participate in a household activity that demonstrates your love and care for them.
Once the Thankful Tree has been decorated, you may also decide to take turns reading the tabs aloud with friends and family. This allows everyone to publicly express their gratitude in a unifying and heartwarming group activity.
Adorning the Thankful Tree can be done during the Thanksgiving season, but it is also a wonderful activity at any time of the year! Perhaps you can keep a Thankful Tree up year-round to decorate with statements of gratitude and count your blessings. With this practice, you may find gratitude growing in your life like a beautiful tree and taking root deep inside your heart.