Our Thankful Tree

We are not a family who puts up our Christmas tree (or even listens to Christmas music) before Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t festive. It’s just a lower-key, muted kind of celebration. As much as we love the bright lights of Christmas—and Hannukah—in our house, we like to save those joys for December. We have so much to be thankful for, so we like to observe the beautiful season of Thanksgiving all month long.

One way we do this is with our thankful tree.

In early November, our tradition is to go to a nearby park and take a walk in the woods by beautiful Beargrass Creek. Along the way, the girls pick up branches—medium-sized sticks with lots of branches are best, and then we bring them home and arrange them in a vase.

We cut out leaf shapes out of red, yellow, and brown construction paper, punch a hole, and tie each leaf with a loop of baker’s twine. Each night at dinner, we say what we’re thankful for and write it on one side of a leaf. On the other side we write our name and the date, and then we hang it on the tree.

I save the leaves from year to year, and it’s fun to go back and look at what we were thankful for in past years. Now that my children are old enough, I have them write what they’re thankful for in their own handwriting, which will make each leaf so much more special in years to come.

There are five of us and lots of nights in November, and I’m no mathematician, but that seems to add up to a lot of leaves. When we run out of room, we just make another tree. What a good problem to have: a whole houseful of reasons to be thankful.


Make Your Own Thankful Tree

What You’ll Need:

  • Branches
  • Vase
  • Brown, Red, and Yellow Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Hole Puncher
  • Baker’s Twine
  • Pen

Step 1: Take a walk through the woods and gather medium-sized branches.

Step 2: Arrange the branches in a vase.

Step 3: Cut simple leaf shapes out of construction paper. Punch a hole in one side. Attach baker’s twine. I like to make leaves ahead of time and keep them in a pretty bowl next to the thankful tree.

Step 4: Think about all the reasons you’re thankful. Share them with your family. Have everyone write his or her reasons for being thankful on a leaf and hang it on the tree. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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