Why I hate "The Giving Tree" and why I love this blog

Okay – I’m going to fess up here. I’ve been super busy lately, and I was simply going to do a repost for today. So I was looking through some of my old posts and found one of my favorites: The Creative Process: A Step by Step Guide. If you’re new here and haven’t read it, I would highly recommend doing so. It’s me at my raging ADD best.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes! So I search my blog and find the post. Now, don’t get me wrong, I crack myself up. But what cracks me up even more is the fact that my friends who comment on this blog don’t feel burdened with the weight of staying on topic. It’s pretty much a free for all.

For those of you who don’t check the original post, here’s a brief summary:

My laundry needed to be done, I had some mismatched socks, I made some sock art and posted the process here. The end.

I also briefly mentioned that I hate the book, “The Giving Tree” here:

“You notice a metal sign that you bought at Ross on the clearance aisle a couple of months ago. It says “Children are the anchors that hold a mother’s heart.” Which you hate, because it reminds you of that children’s book “The Giving Tree”, which makes you want to leg drop that selfish little kid/man in that book. But, it was 2 bucks, and there’s no law saying you have to keep that dumb saying on there once you own it free and clear, now is there?”

There were a total of 37 comments related to this post. The comments (as often is the case) were WAY funnier and/or insightful than the original post. If you get some time, you really should go back and read them. But here’s the ones related to that wretched book.

Without further adieu, I give you, The Peanut Gallery:

January 2, 2009 5:32 PM
vanityofvanities said…
Kathy, you are hilarious! I love your sign.

WARNING: I am going off on a tangent and it will be story-length.

I hate The Giving Tree, too. You see, I was sitting in “the wives’ section” at a church softball game talking to one of my dearest friends, Erin. She is forever talking about little kids because she is a kindergarten teacher. That day was no different. We were discussing our favorite books as a child. (Incidentally, mine was Pokey the Little Puppy, but I digress.)

Hers was The Giving Tree. To her utter shock and dismay, I had never heard of the story. She began retelling the story and started crying as she spoke of the beautiful generosity the book teaches. (Oh yes, I was laughing at her the whole time.) She vowed to bring the book to the next game so I could appreciate the beauty and cry with her.

She read it to me (in true kindergarten teacher fashion). It did not make me cry. It made me furious. I then gave this impassioned speech about how the book teaches children two very awful things: 1. To take and take and take to the point that you actually kill (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) your victim, and 2. To enter into lopsided relationships whereby you completely lose your identity in that other person and only feel fulfillment as that person uses and abuses you.

It should either be called The Selfish Child or The Enabling Tree.

katdish said…
Angela – You’re such a bad*ss. I’m glad you’re my friend. I had the exact same reaction to that book. My daughter read it to me and I was like – “Well, I hope you don’t think it’s okay to treat people like that!” That tree needs some serious therapy!

January 2, 2009 9:32 PM
helen said…
I taught primary grades in a Catholic School for twelve years. Let me tell you something about The Giving Tree……I never read it to my students even once. It was read to me when I was a child by my teachers. Didn’t like the boy at all. Felt physical pain when the tree was being cut. Felt mental anguish that even as an old man, all he did was sit on the stump. No big revelation of what his selfishness cost Tree. If the tree represents God, and the boy/0ld man us, shouldn’t there at least be some sort of epiphany boy/Old man/we go through in order for the story to have a point. When other teachers would tell me how much they like the book, I would reply. “That’s nice……Have you ever read Bunnicula? Now that was a good story..” Think about it. At least Bunnicula had a point.

No, I am not just kissing up to Katdish because she is going to be the next SCL guest blogger or anything. Although if I were, I would be scoring higher on the SCL commentor score sheet. Dang. I’m not kissing up. I never liked that book. It made me cry, but not in a good way.

wv. debuti-when your first guest post on SCL is a short one, it is a debuti, rather than a debut

January 3, 2009 9:04 AM
Jeff said…
These comments are hilarious! One of the things that I love about your blog is that people can find so many awesome tangents in a post to comment on- you know I’m a tangent person.

I give a hearty “right on!” to the anti Giving Tree-ers out there; as a child, I was always thought the tree was shafted and the kid was an idiot. And I agree with Helen- this is nothing like what God has done for us- Christ’s sacrifice does NOT give us license to sit around on our butts.

w.v.- cramsto: How the car gets packed on the way home from camping.

January 3, 2009 11:23 AM
Mare said…
I had an incredible ethics class my junior year of college. We spent a good three hours one day ripping apart the giving tree. I think in the process we ripped apart a few of the students entire world perspective. That book…its not pretty. Don’t feel too bad for the tree though, she’s just as guilty. Very passive…possibly codependent

January 4, 2009 10:35 PM
Helen said…
Twitter? Where is it on your blog? Why haven’t you twittered today? Twitter.

(Did you notice that last comment? Ironic, no?)

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20 Responses to “Why I hate "The Giving Tree" and why I love this blog”

  1. Shark Bait September 15, 2009 at 3:41 am #

    >I would love to share my unique and profound insight here, but I've never actually read the offending item.

    So let's derail this comment thread and talk about wombats.


  2. Melissa from the Blue House September 15, 2009 at 6:11 am #

    >I never really 'got' that book either. Where was the happy ending?

    Pioneer Woman did a post about this book the other day. I bet she stole your idea. (She LIKED the book tho…)

  3. Candace Jean July 16 September 15, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    >What chapter in that book does a board get made from the tree and the kid gets whacked up the side of the head? That's the most realistic one. Definitely not my favorite book.

  4. Helen September 15, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    >Candy, I think you need to write that book "The Give and Take Tree"…
    Maybe katdish will illustrate it for you.

  5. Billy Coffey September 15, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    >Okay, I'll admit that I liked this book. But then I read this, and I'm not so sure now. Dang it.

  6. Peter P September 15, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    >I just discovered the book for the first time a couple of years ago.

    Someone bought it for me and said "I saw this and thought of you."

    After I read it, I googled it to try to find out it's meaning. I wanted to know whether to be offended or not.

    I'm still not sure.

    BTW, the author photo on the back is one of the scariest pictures I have ever seen!

  7. Steph @Red Clay Diaries September 15, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    >I also hated The Giving Tree. Never knew why though.

    So thank you for enlightening me, commenters.

    And Helen, is this the FIRST mention of the infamous Bunnicula? That makes it a landmark post!

    Finally, to expound on Candy's idea, I think the book should have a chapter where a board from the tree is carved into a sharp spike.

    It could be called

    The Shivving Tree.

  8. Nick the Geek September 15, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    >I don't think I ever read the Giving Tree, but I have some vague concept of the book from another mention of it, possibly in a sermon or another book. I think it is an allegory for our culture, and an accurate one at that. I think that is why people tend to react against it within themselves. God has a very different plan for us and we know injustice when we see it.

    That might have been the point of whatever it was I read or heard that talked about this book.

  9. Wendy September 15, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    >Hey katdish, can I have your apples? Yeah, all of them. Thanks.

  10. Nick the Geek September 15, 2009 at 10:50 am #


    after the conversations on twitter this AM I'm a little worried about what that means

  11. Steph @Red Clay Diaries September 15, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    >Nick, do you mean like this:

    How ya like THEM apples?

  12. Jeff September 15, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    >I'm so happy that one of my typos could be preserved forever on one of your posts.

    Small price to pay though if it allows you to share the downfalls of that book with more peeps.

    Candace- your comment made me laugh out loud. I know, the tree has some serious problems too, but the kid in that story is a total knob.

    And Shark Bait- the story would have been COMPLETELY different had it been "The Giving Wombat." Mostly because the kid would have approached it the very first time and gotten his fingers gnawed on.

  13. Heather Sunseri September 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    >I've always been told that it was a "must have" for my children. I confess, I never bought it, and I've never read it. Am I a bad mom for not rushing out to get the book everyone told me I must buy for my children? We like the Dr. Seuss books that we already have. I digress. I don't think I've read the Giving Tree anyway. Now, I plan to just because these comments were funny.

    Katdish, I know you crack yourself up, but you crack me up too!

  14. jasonS September 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    >I have never read this book- seems like I've heard of it, but whatever. I do like the idea of "The Giving Wombat" though…

  15. Beth September 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    >Three cheers for the giving wombat!
    And the shivving tree!

    What's the plural for genius? Geniuses? Genii? If I knew the right word I would say I'm surrounded by them…

  16. vanityofvanities September 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    >I applaud you, Katdish, for once again getting the word out about this book's terrible message! UGH I hate this book!

    But I love you!

  17. JML September 15, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    >I almost wrote the a post that's pretty much opposite your view. . . NOT KIDDING!!! I don't know why, and I don't think that it's fitting for me, but I actually like the book. I think that the child is selfish, and will probably wake up with a nasty STD someday because you KNOW that the tree wasn't the only thing he was taking advantage of, but there's something about it that makes me think of some of the people I've seen in my life who give a lot, even when it's to ridiculous people who should be stabbed. Anyways, I will have to say that I get where you're coming from 🙂
    You make me laugh!

  18. tsholo September 16, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    >i have never read the book, but i think i received the condensed version in an email and the lesson or whatever was that people often take and take, especially from our parents, and we never go back and thank them or give back to them when they need us, so we should learn from the boy/man and not be like that.

  19. jake February 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Notice the comments the men made… not all of them are DISAGREEING with you, but I don’t think any agree. That could be an interesting follow-up? I don’t know. I have a head-ache. Still like that you hate this and totally understand it. Still has some strange appeal to me though. SORRY FRIEND!

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