Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 262: Decorating the Christmas Tree with Gratitude

I am grateful to the ToDo Institute for this wonderful idea.  Their web site is a gift in itself.  I repost their article here with thanks. 

Thirty Thousand Days Christmas Banner
Decorating the Christmas Tree with Gratitude
Dear Patricia,

Our family includes my two daughters (now ages 11 & 13) who have always looked forward to the holiday season.  A few years ago we designed an approach to decorating our Christmas tree which has become one of the most mindful and enjoyable activities of the season.  First, we lay out our growing and eclectic collection of ornaments on the table, ranging from the handmade ornament Chani created in first grade, to a shiny, bobbled ornament that would be comfortable on the tree of the Russian Czar.  Then we take turns selecting and hanging the ornaments on the tree, one by one.  As each of us takes a turn, we contemplate who we'll dedicate this ornament to, and search for a suitable ornament for that person.  Grandma likes the color combination of black/red so she might get a matching ornament.  Jody, the girls' piano teacher, might get an ornament shaped like a musical note, or something that suggests a quality that she possesses.  As each of us prepare to hang the ornament, we announce who it is dedicated to, and thank that person for something they did for us or gave to us.  Thanks to John for putting up siding on the teahouse this fall.  Thanks to Barbara for letting us stay at her house when we were visiting New York.  

The ornaments go up, one by one, and the tree becomes a canvas for all the love and support we received from our circle of friends and family.  Each ornament represents the kindness and generosity of someone we know or have known.  In some cases, we dedicate an ornament to someone who is no longer alive and, in doing so, honor that person's life with the memory of their loving deeds.  We might spend 30-40 minutes each evening for three or four nights before we complete this process.  The decorating itself becomes a reflection on our good fortune, and even before the appearance of presents underneath the tree, we are reminded, throughout the season, that our lives are blessed and that we have been the beneficiaries of great generosity from an ever-expanding circle of wonderful people.

All the best to you and your family,

Gregg Krech, ToDo Institute
author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection

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