The Leaves of Thanks: Gratitude Tree Thanksgiving Tradition
There are some traditions that are timeless, and the Leaves of Gratitude is an incredibly meaningful tradition.
We can never show enough gratitude toward each other, and the purpose of this simple tradition is to add to the splendor of the Thanksgiving meal by celebrating a grateful heart.
There are many ways you may create your own tradition using this theme of gratitude.
Place a paper leaf on each plate and ask everyone to take a quiet moment before the meal begins and write at least two things he/she is grateful for on the leaf.
Have everyone then hang the leaf on a small tree used as a centerpiece, or pile them in a small bowl or basket. Just before dessert, share what is written on the leaves. Make the moment even more special by dimming the lights and holding hands. The more often we express out loud what we are thankful for, the more everyone around us will know just exactly how much we really love and appreciate him/her.
We extend this tradition throughout November by placing the “Thanksgiving Tree” in the middle of our table as a centerpiece. My husband and I desire to cultivate a daily mindset of gratitude – thankfulness even in the smallest of details of life.
It’s easy to express gratitude once a year at Thanksgiving for family and friends, but by cultivating an attitude of gratitude all year long, we begin to see a broader view of the many blessings we each have been given (even when it doesn’t “feel” like it). Begin a Thanksgiving Tree on November 1st and continue adding to it each day through Thanksgiving.
After Thanksgiving is finished, collect the leaves and place them in a Thanksgiving book. Bring it out every year to reminisce on the many years of blessings.
We have made two free templates of printable Thanksgiving Leaves for you to print off and celebrate this tradition. Print these black and white leaves onto card stock or trace template onto scrapbook paper and cut out your own Leaves of Thanks, or print off these colored Gratitude leaves, all ready for you to cut and share.
Your family may desire to get crafty and create your own Gratitude Tree.
Every year my sister in love does a huge one. She cuts out a full size tree (it covers their whole sliding glass deck door), and they write people’s names that they are thankful for along the trunk and branches, and then they add specific items on their cut out leaves.
The key to this is thinking outside the box; try and engage the older children into thinking further than “I am thankful for food, my family, my house.”
How about modeling specific things such as, ” I am thankful for the farmers who work tirelessly with no guarantees of a successful crop.”
How ever you decide to share your Thankful heart this year, pause and take the time to embrace this most important sentiment.
(Use this similar Thanksgiving tradition by expressing your thanks IN the Gratitude Roll and then have everyone guess who wrote it. A great twist to the Leaves of Thanks.)
This post has been updated since ’09 with free printables.