It hardly seems possible that it has been fifty years since Shel Silverstein penned the children’s classic The Giving Tree. This literary parable has been a favorite of adults and children alike since it’s 1964 release. The Giving Tree tells the story of a boy and the tree who loves his so much that she is willing to sacrifice everything for him. Time and time again, the boy returns to the tree in search of something he needs or wants. He returns for her shade, her apples, her wood, her branches, her trunk, until there is nothing left other then her stump, which the boy (turned old man) uses as a place of respite. At the end, the tree is left old and broken with nothing more to offer after a lifetime of taking.
I know what you are thinking… THIS IS A CHILDREN’S STORY? Romeo and Juliet is a pick me up compared to this. Stephen King would need a box of Kleenex after reading this sad story. Who in their right mind would read this to their children? Apparently me!
To be honest, I always wanted to do a show based on The Giving Tree. I can see it in my mind. The tree on the fifty yard line, disappearing branches throughout the show until there is little left as the band exits to the end zone, leaving nothing more than a stump and a lonely man on the field.
More than a show concept, The Giving Tree is a parable for the season ahead. In August, we are in full strength, an impressive display of energy and health. Week by week, day by day, rehearsal by rehearsal, our energy and spirit life is taken from us by the activity until, at the end, months from now, we are left a shell of our former selves.
But in the season that is our Giving Tree, unlike the book, your sacrifice nurtures the growth of everyone around you. Your sacrifice benefits every child you teach. Your loss is their gain. And unlike Silverstein’s tree, you will come back stronger than ever next year.