Many people decorate for Halloween and most people decorate for the winter holidays that they celebrate, but one holiday that is a bit more difficult to decorate for is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to remember everything that we are thankful for, and one tradition that my family has stumbled upon is to put up a Thanksgiving Tree on November 1 each year.
Our Thanksgiving Tree is made of scrapbook paper and hung on the wall, but you could certainly use a real tree, or even just a big stick with several branches. A more permanent way would be to make it into a pillow or a blanket. It’s up to you!
Here’s what we do:
First, I cut lots of squares out of brown scrapbook paper in several different designs, and I stick them to the wall in the shape of a tree trunk. You could use one large sheet of brown construction paper instead if you want a paper tree on the wall.
Next, I cut out several leaf-shapes from different autumnal shades of paper. Our trees usually end up full of reds, oranges, yellows, golds and greens. I put all of these leaves in a basket, along with a few markers and a roll of clear tape.
As family members or even friends and other visitors feel like it, they can write down something that they’re thankful for and stick it on the tree. I write down each household member’s name on the first day, and throughout the month of November, people add various things. It might be a one-word item that they’re thankful for, such as “health,” or it might be a short paragraph on an experience that caused them to feel gratitude.
On Thanksgiving, we read over all of the leaves. It’s nice to look back on what we were thankful for over the course of the month, and also to see what visitors added.
This activity is a nice way to keep gratitude for what we have in the forefront of our minds. Some years, we leave the tree up and continue adding to it for several days or weeks after the holiday is over. Usually I will give each person back his or her leaves so they can do what they want with them. One year, we had an exchange student who kept them hung up on the wall of her bedroom while she was here, and she continued the tradition by putting up a Thanksgiving tree after she returned home to Germany, even though it’s an American holiday.
Of course, there are many variations on ways to have a Thanksgiving tree. Do you do anything like this? Tell us about it!