The Thanksgiving Tree
Posted by Melanie in Family Life

Several years ago we found ourselves in November facing a job loss and relocation with no clear direction ahead. Things were looking pretty grim for the holidays. Now how were we going to give thanks in all things, like the apostle Paul said to do? How could we model this for our young sons?

Somewhere we got the idea for a thanksgiving tree. The concept is simple: cut out the shape of a tree trunk from brown paper or cardboard, and make it big — ours was about five feet tall. Post it in a prominent place — we put ours on the wall of our dining area. Find a likely looking leaf for a pattern and have the children cut out dozens of copies from construction paper. Put the leaves, a black marker, and a roll of masking tape nearby. Every day, or even several times a day, everyone writes down something they are thankful for on a leaf and posts it on the tree. Simplicity itself.

The first day or two everything is obvious. We’re thankful for Mama and Daddy and our grandparents, and Jesus, and our health. We were thankful for our friends and our church. Certainly those go up first.

After that, though, we had to start thinking. We found ourselves thankful for eyeglasses, for policemen, for the ability to read, for safe drinking water. How about constitutional government, severance pay, a temperate climate? The longer we went on, the more we found — we were thankful for things like insurance, for reproduceable experiments, for electricity, for a phonetic alphabet.

Did we get silly? A little bit. Was everything, even the childish stuff — not all of which came from the children, I’ll admit — something to be thankful for? Absolutely.

By the end of the month, the tree was full and we were posting fallen leaves around the base of the trunk. And feeling a lot more thankful. We don’t do it every year, but occasionally when times are bleak, it’s a great reminder of God’s goodness and providence.