If I teach my children one thing, it’s my hope that they will know how to gather gratitude, to cultivate it, to make it a daily part of their lives. Because a life filled with gratitude is brimming with wonder and hope. Its richness cannot be compared.
Every Fall back in the States I would send my kids into the yard to find a branch we would christen as The Thankful Tree. The original plan was for the month of November our family would write down notes of thankfulness to hang on the tree serving as a visual reminder of all we had.
It started simply, the boys were little and would list things such as “I’m thankful for my blankie.” But as the years progressed it was amazing to watch a deeper level of gratitude emerge. Pausing each day to write down what brought them joy was truly deepening their understanding of all we had.
Eventually the “tree” became a permeant fixture in our house. A little jar of empty tags sat beside it and anyone who entered our home was allowed to contribute. The day our oldest teenage foster daughter hung her first note I wept. She could have held bitterness and anger in her heart but instead she saw the loving example our kids made and that she had a choice of what to focus her heart on.
And isn’t that the truth for all of us? We could hold on to the bitterness and anger that is so easy to see. Or we can choose to see hope and gratitude.
When we were packing up to move to Okinawa our little thankful tree had to stay behind. But I tucked the cards into an envelope for safe keeping; years and years of friends and family sharing light and love were contained in that envelope. Those cards are probably one of my most treasured items.
Here we hung a felt garland up for the family to pin their notes to. It’s much more moving-friendly but it still holds the heart of why we do this: gathering gratitude and finding joy in the small moments.
This season take the time to gather gratitude, share it with others, and bring light and joy to this little island we live on.
Big Island Hugs
– 5 sheets of felt (16×16 inch squares,
sold at House of 66cents)
– Thankful Tags (See the bottom of the post for printables!)
1. Cut each sheet of felt into 1×4 inch strips
2. Tie a knot into each strip of felt
3. Thread your needle but don’t cut the thread from the spool. This helps your garland not tangle as you go.
4. Thread a few felt pieces and then slide a clothes pin on.
5. Repeat the process until you have the length of garland desired-up to 14 feet.
6. Gather gratitude and share it!
For the printable tags:
- Right click and save to your computer.
- Open image and go to your print settings.
- In print settings choose 16 copies per page (makes the perfect tag size)