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

A rolled-over car was spotted in a ditch along Sooke Road near the border of Langford on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 24. (Black Press Media photo)
Car ends up in ditch along Sooke Road Sunday morning

Single vehicle spotted rolled-over just after 10 a.m. on Jan. 24

Steve Smith’s image of two sibling adolescent grizzly bears playfighting in the Chilko River in the B.C. Interior earned him best of show at the prestigious Lion’s Gate Celebration of Nature club competition for 2020-21. (Photo by Steve Smith)
Victoria Camera Club captures top spot in prestigious nature and wildlife competition

Saanich Peninsula photographers part of award-winning team

Downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour are part of a corridor that also includes much of urban Saanich that is part of the Greater Victoria 2030 District, a sustainable buildings climate initiative announced recently. (Black Press Media file photo)
Ramping up energy efficiency in Greater Victoria buildings goal of new group

Greater Victoria 2030 District part of North American network of cities working to reduce emissions

Oak Bay High Grade 10 students Oliver Wakely and Alex Joiner with the new scoreboard to soon be installed on the grass turf. Fundraising from the Oak Bay Barbarians rugby alumni and Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay High alumni buy new scoreboard

Scoreboard to be installed on grass field

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Most Read