The Brandner Christmas Tree

The Brandner Christmas tree is decorated a little differently this year. Instead of your traditional ornaments and decorations, you will find paper envelopes filled with random acts of kindness. Each Brandner team member has been challenged to take an envelope from the tree each day and perform the random act of kindness in the envelope.

The experiences we have had performing these acts of kindness have been a tremendous blessing to us this holiday season. We would like to share some of our stories with you.

“The envelope I drew instructed me to spend an evening with my family with no technology (including cell phones). My original plan was to come home, grab hot tea and take a walk along the boardwalk with my husband. I had asked my husband if that sounded like a good plan, and he agreed. But by the time I got home, it was colder than cold. When I got to the front door after work, he greeted me at the door with two mugs of hot tea, a hat, mittens and a scarf on and said “I’m ready to go, but are you sure you want to, it’s very cold?” That’s when I fell in love with my husband again. He was willing to do it because I wanted to, he didn’t know I’d change my mind on it. So darn sweet!

Instead, we had dinner, actually sat at the dinner table and talked. No cell phones and no T.V. Just us. And this is hard for my husband, but he put his laptop away and didn’t work. Points for him again!

For me, it was just a reminder of how distracting technology can be to relationships. A reminder of how important it is to disconnect and give full attention to the ones you love.”

-Hope Steel

“One of my envelopes was to send a care package. I thought about all of the people who would benefit from a care package, the many people in need these days. While I sat at a stop light the other day, I noticed a man in a wheelchair holding a sign up asking for help. It’s been close to freezing temperatures here lately in the Pacific Northwest, and I knew braving the cold had to be tough for him.

I stopped by the store that night and picked up some cold weather essentials – gloves, fleece hat and hand warmers – along with some snacks and drink. I put them all inside zip lock bags, with a Christmas card and a list of local resources – homeless shelters, food banks and medical centers. I started with 3 packages and handed them out to people I came across on my drive in to work or passed by when grabbing groceries one evening.

I didn’t know how they would react if they were just hoping for money. But they were so grateful to receive anything. I’ve decided I’m going to keep a stock of care packages in my car to spread the Christmas spirit year-round.”

-Ashley Nagley

“It's been an amazing experience to pull these tree tags and see what my next adventure will be. From cleaning out my closet so I could donate clothes to a homeless shelter to sending a letter to someone I care about (by snail mail with a real stamp and everything)'s been great to put focus on something other than the latest gadget under the tree.

I feel so blessed to work with a group of people who jump right in when the opportunity arises to make a difference.”

-Cynthia Crosby

Here are a few of the other acts of kindness team members performed from the tree:

  • Made peanut butter sandwiches for the homeless
  • Donated clothes to the homeless shelter
  • Bought coffee for the person behind them at Starbucks
  • Played a board game with a senior citizen at a nursing home
  • Complimented a stranger
  • Bought a blanket for the homeless man on the street
  • Donated over 20 toys to the Veteran’s Center
  • Adopted a family for Christmas

At the beginning of the holiday season, we saw a tree covered in envelopes. But after spending the month performing these different acts of kindness, we see a tree covered in different ways we have loved one another. This is not a Christmas we will soon forget, and it looks like the beginning of a tradition that will last for many years to come.

From all of us here at Brandner, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.