When I was a little girl, my family always traveled to Bowling Green, KY on Thanksgiving. This was an 8-hour trip invovling repeat tape flips of The Muppets Christmas Album. (FIVE GOLD RINGS!) Usually, mischief between my brother and myself would ensue around the six hour mark–Evansville, IN. (“He hit me!” “Shut up, brat!” “Daaad!”) Inevitably, we would arrive at my aunt’s house with one of my parents dragging one of us past the warm hugs and greetings of my aunt and uncle — oblivious to the 8-hour hell ride shinannagins–into a back bedroom for one of several punishment options including but not limited to time out, instant bed time, a soapy mouth washing, or an old-fashioned spanking. Good times.
But by Thursday morning, Wednesday night’s shameful arrival was all but forgotten and I would wake up early to climb in bed with my aunt and uncle and their dog, Misty. We would talk and catch-up on the details of my very busy 9-year-old life. Sometimes Aunt Nancy would give me a task to do such as organizing her jewelry box. Then, she would get up and start fixing the meal. I would tag along behind helping, talking (Hey, I have always been a talker. Nothing’s changed here.) or simply watching her construct our yummy meal.
One year, Aunt Nancy decided to give me an art project. On a construction board, she drew a tree.
She gave me some construction paper and instructions to cut out leaves. On these leaves we were to write things we were thankful for.
Over the years, the trip didn’t change much. The car ride was still brutal, the Muppets were still singing and the Thursday morning routine was still the same. But as our lives changed, the leaves reflected our growth.
A long time ago, Aunt Nancy lost the original tree. Since then, we’ve recreated the tree several times over. But the concept remains the same. Write down what you are thankful for on a construction paper leaf and tape it to the tree.