Ara Eagan ’21, who serves on Princeton Writes’ Student Board, spearheaded the Give Thanks project at Frist Campus Center through the creation of “Trees of Gratitude,” just in time to remind students and staff alike what they are most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

When we think of Thanksgiving, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the crushing wave of Black Friday deals or focus chiefly on the delicious meal that will be eaten: roast turkey, savory gravy on mashed potatoes, and pies galore. Therefore, sometimes, a reminder is needed to call to the forefront of our thoughts why we really celebrate Thanksgiving and what we have to be thankful for.

The Give Thanks project sparked to life when a friend expressed thanks for “Thanksgiving break.” Just this small mention of thankfulness produced a tiny seed of joy that needed to be planted and watered til it grew.

Through “Thankful For” template leaves, the Princeton Writes team was able to ask over 250 individuals to write down what they were thankful for, from students to Frist Campus Center staff to professors. It was evident right away that asking passersby to take just a few minutes to think about what they were thankful for lifted spirits and induced feelings of true gratitude and happiness. One leaf grew into five, then ten, then fifty, and so on. And so we took to constructing dual Trees of Gratitude on the main level of Frist Campus Center, as well as a small “P” to represent Princeton itself.

Boasting a colorful array of foliage, the trees truly demonstrate the amazing contagious power of joy and the thankfulness that permeates our campus. Each leaf was unique, and though many participants were most thankful for their friends and family, others were more specific. One leaf, for example, expressed gratitude for “the beauty of music,” while another was thankful for President Eisgruber.

Regardless of what is written on them, the leaves remind those who pass by of the beauty of gratitude and of the true meaning of our Thanksgiving holiday.