The Gratitude Tree – a TREEmendous way to express gratitude at Christmas

images-1by Andrea Koehle Jones, Executive Director of The Charitree Foundation

My favorite Christmas project this year was our Gratitude Tree.  Mostly because it gave us a moment to pause in the midst of the pre-Christmas frenzy to remember what Christmas is really about. We remembered the people and things that we are most grateful for – it was a fun and wonderful opportunity to share together as a family.

It all started when I was thinking about Christmas commercialism. I looked at our Christmas tree trying to think of a way to get my kids to focus less on what’s under the tree and more on what they’re grateful for – and poof a Gratitude Christmas Tree popped into my head!

One of the most important things I’ve taught my children is gratitude.  Expressing gratitude is something I consciously strive to do and being able to say thanks even for the smallest things has helped me prevail through some tough times.  I want my kids to grow-up into happy and appreciative people with An Attitude of Gratitude.

I continue to find new ways to instill the gift of gratitude into my children’s lives. We all are going to have some bad days and if you can think of one thing no-matter how small to be grateful for on the worst days, this tiny act of gratitude can start to turn things around.  I won’t always be there to cheer them up when they’re down so if I can teach them how to turn things around themselves, then I will feel a sense of peace that they will be armed with a powerful life skill they can use every day of their lives. The gift of gratitude – now that’s a magical Christmas gift!

“I’m thankful for snow!” ~ Caleb, 6

“I’m grateful for the trees, ocean and animals. I’m thankful for the whole world!” ~ Christy, 9

“I’m thankful for God, Grandma and Grandpa.” ~ Kate, 7

“I’m most grateful for my family, my dog, my friends and my LEGO police station

that I made from scratch.” ~ Matthew, 6

“I’m thankful for my mountain bike and my Mommy and Daddy.” ~ Luke, 6

“I’m grateful for Santa.” ~ Chloe, 4

il_570xN.538796385_83a5How to turn your Christmas Tree into a Chrismas Gratitude Tree

Any Christmas Tree can be a Gratitude Christmas Tree – just spend some time thinking about what you are grateful for and write it in permanent marker on an ornament – don’t forget to sign your name and the date. You can also print out Etsy Gratitude Tree Tags and write on the back. Save the tags and ornaments and each year when you decorate your tree, reflect on the things you have been grateful for over the years.