The gratitude tree: A way to help your family learn to say thank you

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This simple exercise can help families cultivate gratitude and grow in unity.

Thanking someone for a favor they did for us, being thankful for a good time we spent with people we love, or simply expressing our gratitude for the wonders of Creation are attitudes that transform family relationships.

“Gratitude is a virtue that can be cultivated as a family,” says Father Lionel Dalle in his book, The Miracle of Gratitude (“Le miracle de la gratitude,” published in French). To encourage everyone to take part, Fr. Dalle offers a simple and fun activity called “The Gratitude Tree.”

“Draw a tree and hang it on a wall. Every evening, come and stick on the tree your favorite moment of the day, written (in secret) on the back of a sticky note. On Sunday, read together the joys of the week and praise the Lord for the wonders of your lives!”

This is an excellent exercise for young and old, as it can help us learn to recognize the many benefits and gifts we experience each day, and to form the habit of thanking those responsible, whether it be our spouse, child, father, mother, or the Lord Himself.

What are the effects?

“Everyone is happy to have their time to speak, and happy to hear each other’s little joys. It’s quality family time that makes us all grow up!” says a family that Lionel Dalle quotes. In addition to this moment of unity and family joy, the relationships between family members tend to be transformed and strengthened. “If each spouse could take the time to note all the attentions and all the efforts that the other makes each week for the common good, we’d look at each other differently,” says Hugues Dollié.

“Gratitude creates a climate of joy and peace, making us pay more attention to others and facilitating communication. It encourages good will and reduces violence,” says Fr. Dalle. In the life of a couple, gratitude “helps each spouse to be more disposed to give of him- or herself, a virtue at the heart of conjugal love.”

And to think that it only takes a few pencils and sticky notes!