This is a Gratitude Box. I make one every year before Thanksgiving and force everyone I see during that week to participate in my Gratitude Box ritual. Basically, I provide small pieces of paper and a pen, then ask folks to write something they’re currently grateful for in their lives. I then ask them to take a different piece of paper and write something they hope to be grateful for in a year – something that hasn’t yet come to pass. Capisce?


Anyhoo, I encourage you to start this Thanksgiving tradition in your own home. All you need is an empty tissue box, some sort of wrapping paper, tape and a bit of colored tissue paper for the hole in the top. You’ll also need some sort of pen, to write on the finished box.


If there’s plastic in the top of the tissue box, reach in and remove it. Next, wrap the empty box. I suppose one could wrap in such a way as to place the closing flaps on the top and the bottom of the box, therefore keeping all 4 sides smooth for writing, but I’ve never done that. And honestly, now that I think of it, I have no idea why I’ve resisted this idea. I think it must be because I know I’ll be poking a hole in the wrapping paper where the empty box’s opening already exists. Maybe I’ve thought it would be too hard to push the flaps through the hole. Just put the folded flaps wherever the heck you want them, okay?


Once the box is wrapped, find that pre-existing hole in the empty box. Using scissors or a knife, cut through the wrapping paper so that the box’s opening is exposed, Press the cut wrapping paper down and into the opening.


Take your colored tissue paper and push it into the box’s opening.  You want the colored paper’s edges to stick out of the box, like a gift. You also want the tissue inserted deeply enough into the box to allow folded slips of paper to be inserted into the opening. That is, after all, the whole point.


About those slips of paper… I usually try to find some sort of pretty paper, then I cut (or tear) it into pieces, about 1″ x 3″. I try to end up with more strips than I could possibly need. I mean, you never know how grateful people are going to be!


I almost forgot – you now need to decorate your Gratitude Box. I like to use quotes about gratitude. I find them inspiring, not only for myself but also for the people I force into participating in my little ritual. I find these quotes any place I can: books, the interwebs, magazines. And I usually try to choose shorter quotes, as I need them to fit on the danged box. Once I’ve chosen my quotes, I write them on the wrapped box. If I feel like it, I’ll add some swirls or stars. You know – jazz it up.


That’s it! Place your Gratitude Box in a place of prominence, along with the paper strips and a pen or two, and you’re ready to harangue your friends and family into your practice of gratitude. Let them know their secrets are safe. Anything they write and place in the box will stay there, unread. Their gratitude is private.


There is one final step. At the end of Thanksgiving night, tuck the colored tissue into the box’s opening and burn the whole danged thang. That’s right. Burn it. The idea is to release all that gratitude – through a ritual of fire – into the Universe. It’s beautiful, really. And I always feel my gratitude increase after the release. Here’s another thing, too: the people I think will dislike this tradition the most are usually the ones who get into it wholeheartedly.


If you end up trying this (or already practice a similar tradition), let me know how it goes. As for me, I’ll be pushing the Gratitude Box on everyone this week, just like every year. And when I burn the box at the end of Thanksgiving night, I’ll watch the smoke swirl into the sky and think of all that gratitude, flying out to every corner of the Universe. And I’ll thank my lucky stars I’m able to feel so very grateful.

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