In the fall of 2008 like a lot of Americans our family was worried about the economy and how it would affect our family. We had decided to relocate after the holiday season and we wanted to host one last party at our house. I deemed it 'The Gratitude Party'. We were going to celebrate what we had and be open to what was to come next. Little did we know only months away our world was going to change in ways we could have never predicted.
Always the crafter, I had gathered a large willow branch, barren of leaves, on one of my recent hikes. I brought it home, fastened it in a decorative stand and made little tags. The idea was that each guest would take a minute to reflect on what they were grateful for, write it down... and hang it on the tree.
Turns out it became a great starting point for conversation and kind of a fun party game. As people came in and the house started to fill with the warmth and laughter of friends my little tree began to fill with these new leaves of hope and inspiration. It wasn't actually until several days after the party that I happened to notice what one of the tags said, that her father's chemo was over and the cancer was in remission. Moved by the note I started to read them all.
“Jean-Paul just returned healthy and safe from Iraq”
Since the notes were written in anonymity I didn't know then and still don't to this day which ones belonged to which friends. And these were things I didn't know about my friends' lives. They ranged from the humorous "Just glad I still have a little hair left", to the serious "Jean-Paul just returned healthy and safe from Iraq".
What a gift that Gratitude Tree turned out to be. It was a visual reminder that we all have the power to choose what we focus on. It changes our world when we do.
I loved the symbolism that tree provided and it was still standing on our table top on January 15, 2009 when my husband Sully landed US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River. The events surrounding flight 1549, of course, reverberated around the world and we were inundated for months to come after the landing.
But one day, as the shock of flight 1549 and the after affects started to wear off, I noticed my little Gratitude Tree still standing there. As a reminder once again to remain vigilant and always keep my focus on what I have, rather than what I do not.
Join us in creating a virtual Gratitude Tree and "hang" your grateful thoughts.
Grateful Thoughts from Grateful People
I am most and forever thankful for my soul mate of 41 years. Truly, a gift from God when I was 13. We met, eventually married and many years later, with three amazing sons, all different and special, a beautiful daughter-in-law and two very precious grand children, I am truly blessed. Thank you, Lord.
I’m thankful for my children. They’re mature, levelheaded, funny and full of common sense. I can look forward to their teen years without worrying that they’ll smoke, drink, do drugs or get pregnant.
I'm thankful for my parents, whose marital commitment (51 years and counting) and excellent parenting skills gave me the security I needed to make good choices in life. The short- and long-term repercussions of good choices cannot be overemphasized. It affects nearly every aspect of life: spouse, health, happiness, attitude, you name it. My husband and I are passing that legacy of good choices on to our kids. And so it goes.
St. Louis, MO