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

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Most Read