For Mamas, Learning at Home

Cultivating Gratitude with a Tree of Thanks

The Halloween decorations are put away and the weather is officially fall-like so it seems only natural that our gaze starts to shift towards the coming holidays.  It seems everywhere you look things are jumping right past Thanksgiving and into the Christmas season but I’m telling you to FIGHT THAT URGE! (With the exception of Christmas music, it’s never too early to start that!)

Thanksgiving gives us a perfect excuse to slow down and truly teach our kids what gratitude is.  In a perfect world, we’d be purposefully teaching it throughout the year but I find it often gets overlooked.  Adults and kids are constantly bombarded with things they should want and the worst part is that these wants are packaged to seem like needs.  My husband and I are determined to teach our kids to be grateful for what they have instead of constantly wanting more.

One way to do this is with a Tree of Thanks.  We did this a few years ago when M was the only one old enough to participate so I thought it would be a great idea to bring it back.

Using brown construction paper, I create a large tree on our kitchen wall – just branches, no leaves.  I also cut out a few dozen leaves from red, orange and yellow construction paper (a few years ago I found a package of foam leaves at the dollar store which saved a ton of time but I haven’t found them since.)

No need for any artistic talent (as you can see!)

Every few nights, each family member adds a leaf to the tree.  On the leaf, we write one thing we are grateful for.  The only rule we have is that you can’t duplicate something that has already been added to the tree.  The first few nights are easy but by the week of Thanksgiving, it will be a bit trickier for everyone (adults included).

One of the things I like best about this project is that it serves as a reminder for parents and kids – I certainly need a reminder from time to time to look around and remember how blessed I am.  The more we vocalize our gratitude, the more natural it will become.

I encourage each of you to start your own Tree of Thanks this year – not only will it help everyone to focus on being grateful, it makes a great fall decoration in the house! I’d love to hear how it goes – tag your project with #treeofthanks to show off what your family is grateful for this year.

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