The Giving Tree at My House

the Giving Tree 2A tree has been in my front yard for the last twenty years. It provided shade to our front deck. It provided privacy to our windows. It provided a climbing spot for kids and cats, a home for birds, a job site for a woodpecker, beautiful colors in the fall. It grew from a little twig to a huge tree so quickly Neil and I often laughed that it reminded us of our relationship. One minute we hardly knew each other and the next we were married and raising a family!

But everything has a season and the tree was dying. It was breaking off in pieces and proving dangerous to my roof, my car, and anyone siting underneath. It was time to cut it down. I couldn’t watch the morning they came to do it, wearing their lumber helmets and safety glasses. From inside the house, I could hear the saw and the shouts of the men as each large branch was cut and swung out onto the lawn. I could hear the chipper as they cut those branches into chunks they threw onto their truck. I could hear the grinder, crushing the last of the stump into mulch they threw into my garden.

Finally, I heard the heavy vehicles drive away, and then it was quiet. Really quiet. No birds chirping, no wind rustling though leaves, and it was sad.

I went outside and looked at the bare and naked spot that only an hour before was shady and green. It reminded me of the book, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, about a generous apple tree and the human being (“Boy”) she loves. In the book, Boy gradually takes everything the apple tree has, and because she loves him, she is happy to give it. Boy always seemed a bit selfish to me; he never even said thank you. So today, a little too late, standing in the bright sun and the quiet, I thanked my tree for its shade, its beauty, and its presence all these years.

And then I had a bit of a brain jump as I thought of all the people in my life who give me their gifts and their presence and how often I neglect to voice my gratitude. Since Neil died I recalled hundreds of things I wish I thanked him for. There were so many daily blessings I took for granted, so many things that in the familiarity of marriage I failed to appreciate or even notice. I might not be able to thank him anymore, but I can still thank lots of others, so….

Thank you to my sweet daughters: I am so grateful for your love and hard work. You make our family wonderful (or as Lilo’s dear Stitch would say, “…..small and broken, but still good”). Sometimes I don’t even notice, but from now on I will.

Thank you to my mother and brothers and sisters: I am so grateful for your tender concern and prayers. I don’t always act like it, but from now on I will.

Thank you to my friends for the smiles and tears and gifts you share. I don’t always share back, but from now on I will.

Thank you to my patients for trusting me with your care. I don’t always convey what an honor it is to take care of you, but from now on I will.

Thank you to the people who impact my life every day, from the kindhearted check-out clerk at the grocery store, to the inspiring choir at my church, to the dedicated person who teaches my exercise class. I don’t always show my gratitude, but from now on I will.

Finally, thank you, my dear readers, for accompanying me on this journey of writing and mourning and joy; I do truly appreciate you! Why not climb onto this
gratitude-giving tree with me; who can you thank today?

Share with anyone you know who needs this message!

I plan to share “The Giving Tree at my House” with like-minded friends at
Thought Provoking Thursday (


  1. For years I have kept a gratitude journal. It helps me realize how very much I have to be grateful for. I have missed very few days and your post reminds me to be there for those who have given so much to me.

  2. Thank you Colleen for sharing so much of yourself with us. I always read your blog and don’t always remember to thank you for making me stop and think and be grateful and pray and sometimes cry and sometimes laugh. Thank you for all of it. Keep writing!

  3. Thank you for the reminder to be grateful for the people in our lives. It is so easy to let the busyness of the day keep us from noticing how much richer life is because of them. Glad I stopped here from Thought Provoking Thursday Blessings!

    1. You are so right – being busy sometimes makes us take people for granted. I am going to try very hard not to do that anymore!

  4. Your blogs always tug at heart-strings, but this one made me cry. Thanks for reminding us we all have a “giving tree”.

  5. Visiting from Lyli’s. Thank you for this. I want to live with gratitude and even more if I feel thankful I want to say so. I want the people in my life to know how much I appreciate them and the Lord to know I am thankful for every blessing. What a wonderful reminder.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Deb. Its so easy for me to forget to say thank you and to be grateful for all I have, but I am going to work on it!

  6. Thank you Colleen, your blog reminds me to enjoy the simple things in life and the gratitude of all the people who have walked with me

    1. Karen, I am grateful to be one of the ones who gets to walk with you, even if its from a distance!

  7. Colleen,

    Your words here today resonate with me deeply. I pray for God to give me a heart that is thankful, rather than just receiving without noticing the love and sacrifice attached to the giving.

    My best friend became a widow two years ago when her husband went home to glory after fighting cancer for 5 years. I now have a special place in my heart for the widow — because she is my friend.

    Thank you for sharing your words with the Thought-Provoking Thursday community. I look forward to reading more from you in the weeks ahead.


    1. Thanks, Lyli, for stopping by and for letting me share on Thought-Provoking Thursday!
      My heart aches for your friend – and really for anyone who has lost someone they love. It happens to all of us sometime, though, and God’s help is the only way I found to get through it.

  8. We love this. I’ve truly been thinking of it every day. You are a great writer! By the way, my branches are sagging and withered. Just a little humor for ya, hehe.

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