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christmas treeI’m not particularly crafty.  I can copy people and make crafty things, and I appreciate crafty people, I’m just not one of them!!    A few weeks ago I saw a particularly cute, crafty fruit and cheese platter arranged to look like a Christmas tree.  I knew we were having a baby shower and family party soon, so I sent the picture to my sister-in-law, saying it would be fun to have for the party.

Well, you should really be careful about suggestions – she asked me to make it!  Thankfully it wasn’t difficult, and it turned out really cute, if I say so myself.  In the picture they had used celery for the trunk of the tree.  I didn’t have celery, but I have lots of bark.  So I found a piece of bark that was just the right size and put it at the bottom of the platter for the trunk.

The platter

The baby shower was first, and the ladies oohed and aahed over the platter.  I’d made a second one for the family party, so we added it to the buffet table.  It was almost gone at the end of the meal, so I thought it was a success.  Then we got in the car…

Apparently as people took the fruit and cheese off the platter, you couldn’t really tell it was supposed to be a Christmas tree anymore.  As the teenage boys started getting food, one of them wondered out loud why there was a big piece of bark on the platter (remember my cute Christmas tree trunk?).  My nephew looked around and whispered, “with some of the diets in this family, you never know!”

The bark diet

I laughed for quite a while about this one – particularly because I’m the one he most likely was talking about!   It made me realize that two people can look at something, and see two  completely different things.  It depends on perspective, experience, context, amongst other things.

At this time of year, I often am reminded about the perspective of gratitude.  I’ve written before about our “Four Gifts” tradition.  This is something I’ve heard lots of variations on, but our is:   Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Share and Something to Read.  My youngest son is quite put out about this – “That’s ALL we get??”  While our foreign exchange student has a hard time coming up with four things to put on his list.  What’s the difference?  It’s the same four gifts…

12 Days of Gratitude

I decided we needed to focus on what we have rather than what we want this year, so we are doing the 12 days of Gratitude.  We are each assigned a day or two, and we picked something we wanted to focus on for that day.  We are sharing thoughts, stories and experiences to help change our perspective about all we have that we are grateful for.

I found some great gratitude tips at www.unstuck.com that I want to share.

9 ways to cultivate gratitude

  1. Notice your day-to-day world from a point of gratitude and be amazed at all the goodness we take for granted. The video “A Good Day” from TEDxSF can get you in the right frame of mind.

  2. Keep a gratitude journal. All it requires is noting one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis. No fancy notebook, no computer program required.

  3. If you identify something or someone with a negative trait (the cold conference room), switch it in your mind to a positive trait (the conference room with a great view).

  4. Gratitude requires humility, which the dictionary defines as “modest and respectful.” Explore where it fits in your life. The article“Humility: A Quiet, Underappreciated Strength”is a good start.

  5. Give at least one compliment daily. It can be to a person or it can be asking someone to share your appreciation of something else (“I love how quiet it is in the morning, don’t you?”).

  6. When you find yourself in a bad situation ask: What can I learn? When I look back on this, without emotion, what will I be grateful for?

  7. Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip for 10 days. If you slip, rally your willpower and keep going. Notice the amount of energy you were spending on negative thoughts and actions.

  8. Sound genuinely happy to hear from the people who call you on the phone. Whether the caller responds with surprise or delight, he’ll know you value speaking with him.

  9. Become involved in a cause that is important to you. Donate money or time or talent. By joining in, you’ll gain greater appreciation for the organization, and it will appreciate you more, too.

We are also going to start using the book The Magic by Rhonda Byrne together as a team in January.  It teaches how to use the power of gratitude through 28 days to enrich your life.

So during the Christmas season of stores and tinsel and all the things that may take your eyes  off what you’re grateful for, remember that it’s all about perspective.  Start listing what you DO have, and I think every single one of us will be amazed at just how blessed we are.  May you have an amazingly thankful Christmas season!  I’m thankful for you!


Dr. Michelle Jorgensen

This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.

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