This is my little Charlie Brown type Christmas tree that a friend gave me several years ago. This year, I decided to tie a ribbon on it every day with something I was thankful for written on the ribbon. I discovered that the ribbon is actually a lot harder to write on than you think it would be, so went back to writing it in my journal after a few days. After a couple of days, I noticed how much prettier my tree was looking with those bright, fall colored ribbons on it. It got me to thinking about a book I read quite a few years ago (and am rereading now). The author talked about how we are not born thankful but how we have to learn thankfulness. She took a challenge to find 1000 things that she was thankful for and in doing so, she started seeing gratefulness in things she never would have noticed before; things like the way sunlight filtered through the trees or the sweetness of an elderly gentleman looking for just the right words on a card for his wife of many years. She says that in finding things to be grateful for, she became a happier person; a person more satisfied with her life.
I can completely see this. Being intentionally grateful for the little things isn’t a natural state for us…how many of us take for granted the clean water that comes out of our faucet, the cool air the air conditioner blows through the vents, or the car that takes us where we want to go? Or what about the eyesight that allows you to see the colors of the rainbow after the storm? Or the beauty in the first snowfall of the year? Or the hearing that allows you to enjoy your grandchild’s laughter or the ocean washing up on the shore? These things are beautiful and make us happy. Much too often we never stop to think how blessed we are to have these amazing things in our lives. For me, seeing the beauty ‘blossom’ on my little tree really brought home to me how being intentionally grateful for the many things in my life, be they big or small, can make my life better, more positive, and yes, more satisfying. Think how pretty my little tree would be if I kept adding ribbons every day for a year! I’m not going to do that though, because, after all, tomorrow starts the Christmas season (another thing to be thankful for!) and the little tree branches will go back to being bare for the few little ornaments that go on it. However, I AM going to keep my thankful journal going…adding at least one thing that I’ve found to be thankful for each day. And every time I add something to it, I’m going to envision my little tree with another ribbon on it, getting prettier with every one. I think that if I want it to be,this could be a project that can last a lifetime.