Oak Bay man builds 'advent gratitude tree' to provide daily positivity
As the days grew gloomier during the height of the pandemic, so did the mood of Michael’s family.
“Sitting around the dinner table, it was all negative, negative, negative,” Michael recalls.
But then one night, during dessert, there was the advent of something bright.
“We’re sitting there with our advent calendars, eating our chocolate,” Michael remembers with a smile. “And [I’m] thinking, ‘Hey! Wait a minute!”
Powered by the potential of a positive solution, Michael started driving to the hardware store to buy some wood, until his wife told him about a pair of pallets being offered for free online.
“I quickly turned directions and brought [the pallets] home,” Michael says. “I was also trying to make it that [this idea] doesn’t cost anybody any money.”
Priceless positivity was the focus of the project.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the best at being a handyman,” Michael laughs. “But I thought this is pretty simple.”
After cutting the wooden pallets into simple shapes, Michael and his three sons painted the front of them, wired lights to the back of them.
After setting it up in their front yard, they pondered the most important part of the project — what to include on what was to become an advent Christmas tree.
Instead of daily treats or toys, they made wooden signs to hang from numbered hooks on the tree.
“We sit around the dining room table and we brainstorm,” Michael says. “And then frantically make one for the next day.”
The signs included messages with tangible and free suggestions to make one's day brighter, from “Call a family member and say ‘I love you,’” to “Hide a positive note for someone to find.
“We were trying to figure out ways that we could do something positive that anyone could do,” Micheal says.
Last year, they hung 25 daily messages (from Dec. 1 to Christmas Day) on the gratitude tree, and posted pictures of them on social media. It inspired strangers to follow their positive suggestions, and students to create their own tree in a nearby school classroom.
While this year the same thing is happening outside their house, inside Michael says his family’s perspective has transformed from negative to positive.
“We’re always going to have challenges coming our way,” Michael says. “We can let those things get us down or we can lift ourselves up.”
And if we choose to plant seeds of positivity, we just might find a forest of gratitude will grow.