Oak Bay resident Michael Cunliffe with his family’s Gratitude Tree. Like an advent calendar for goodwill, each day the family adds a positive message, action, or affirmation to the tree that they’ve come up with themselves. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay resident Michael Cunliffe with his family’s Gratitude Tree. Like an advent calendar for goodwill, each day the family adds a positive message, action, or affirmation to the tree that they’ve come up with themselves. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay’s Gratitude Tree a holiday hit

Family posts daily messages on advent calendar for goodwill

From the living room window of their Monterey Avenue home, the Cunliffe family can see faces.

Rain-soaked faces, cold faces, scrunched up faces, sideways faces, curious faces and glowing-in-the-dark faces.

They’re all stopping by to see the latest sentiment posted on the family’s 10-foot-tall Gratitude Tree.

Painted red, green and white, and adorned with messages (each dangling on a wooden block), it’s an advent calendar of goodwill. Each day the family of Michael and Trisha, and their three boysm Lucas (17), Jacob (13) and Joshua (13), add a positive message, action, or affirmation.

The Gratitude Tree.

The ripple effect has overwhelmed the family with response coming from across the country.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria residents roar in thanks to frontline workers

“We started out by sitting around the table as a family each night to create one for the next day,” said dad Michael Cunliffe. “We wanted them to be something that didn’t cost money. When we sit down, we will discuss if there was anything out of the norm that day. … We can use that to [inspire] one.”

One idea was to post a pay-it-forward action, such as buying the next person’s coffee in line, but it wasn’t the right fit.

Instead, Day 1 reads “Compliment a stranger.” Day 16 reads, “If COVID safe, hold a door for someone.”

They’re all just ideas to get people thinking about how we can maintain our community while being physically apart, Cunliffe said.

Every five days the messages are an affirmation done on a silver block (blocks are otherwise the natural wood colour).

Day 10 reads, “I’m grateful for all that I have.”

“It’s really amazing the feedback I’m getting. Not for us, but for the community that’s been pulled together online and in person. And seeing people out here,” Cunliffe said.

The tree itself is a series of boards hammered together and painted. Back in November, Cunliffe was on the cusp of driving to the lumber store to buy wood when his wife called him. She had spotted free palettes.

Cunliffe’s boys drilled the holes for the lights.

The Gratitude Tree gets plenty of foot traffic as it is across from Monterey middle school and next to a pathway that connects Monterey to Hampshire Road. But it’s also had an online following.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Beware, the actions can require some reflection and effort. Not everyone is comfortable reminding people they love them or, able to easily pass along a compliment.

“There’s lots of introverts in this world. If you want to pass on a compliment, it doesn’t have to be in a physical, one on one interaction. Send a message,” Cunliffe said. “And no, we don’t always say to people we love them. For some reason it’s a hard thing for people to say.”

The Gratitude Tree:

Day 1: Compliment a stranger. Day 2: Phone, text or write someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Day 3: Be fully present during conversations. Day 4: Use the words Thank You as much as you can today. Day 5: A positive affirmation, “I choose to be happy and to love myself today.” Day 6: Let someone go ahead of you in line. Day 7: Provide encouragement to someone. Day 8: If you can ~ Donate to a food bank. Day 9: Tell 3 people why you appreciate them. Day 10 (an affirmation): I am grateful for all that I have. Day 11: Hide a positive note for someone to find. Day 12: Tell someone’s boss they have a great employee. Day 13: Ask someone ‘How are you?’ and listen. Day 14: Leave a thank you card for your mail carrier. Day 15: “I choose to make today a great day.” Day 16: If COVID safe – Hold a door for someone. Day 17: Pick up some garbage and dispose of it properly. Day 18: Call a family member and say ‘I love you.’ Day 19: Be Patient. Day 20 (affirmation): “I am full of positive loving energy.” Day 21: See the goodness in others. Day 22: Keep things in perspective.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Gratitude Tree. 
(Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Just Posted

Saanich police are investigating property damage at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police seek info after fence torn down, dumped over embankment in Saanich

Christmas Hill restoration site fence destroyed sometime between Jan. 16 and 18

A single-vehicle collision involving a driver who struck the median on McKenzie Avenue at Carey Road interrupted morning traffic on Jan. 21. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Single-vehicle crash interrupts morning traffic in Saanich

Incident was minor, no significant injuries reported, firefighter says

(Pxhere)
Mill Bay nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Most Read