There’s a lesson in that book, but we don’t have to be helpless, hopeless, and give in — the boy was rather rude and disrespectful and part of what’s sad is that he never says “Thank you” at the end or appears to really learn the lesson, so while the ending is sweet and they both need each other, it’s a bit more bitter than sweet. The tree loved to give but everyone who gives deserves to at least get kindness back. I’d like to believe the boy does realize that. Most of us work very hard in life and hope we’ll be treated kindly in old age, and of course should be kind to those around us. I have several older relatives who are alone, and I do my best to reach out. I fear that there will be many people alone as time goes on, because families are smaller than there used to be and people live longer. But we don’t have to give in and only sit on someone’s stump — we should remember the Golden Rule and treat others as we’d expect to be treated.

Journalist & author of nerdy novel CARRIE PILBY (film version‘s on Netflix). Finishing up offbeat memoir. Love dogs & puns. Read more:

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