To answer part of Nancy's question:
The plot centers around the life of a tree and spans more than 150 years. It begins with a scene of a Chippewa mother teaching her children under the tree, with a little settler boy (Jebediah) listening in as he hides behind a rock. She speaks of how the tree has a spirit and so on. Later a Franciscan missionary comes and teaches the Chippewa children about Jesus, under the tree again with Jebediah listening in. The Franciscan speaks of St. Francis and nature's proper place in God's plan.
Many years later, a teacher in the 1920's is teaching her class under the tree. Jebediah, now an old man, takes one of the students aside and tries to explain how the tree is special but he becomes confused and the little girl thinks that the tree is magic.
The legend of the magic tree grows out of control over the years. There is a beautiful 1940's scene of a young couple saying goodbye as the man goes off to war. They make the tree their promise tree. She promises to come to the tree everyday and pray for him, and he promises to come home okay.
There is a fun 1960's scene with the hippies saving the tree from the evil developers. And there is even a scene set in 1989 with rappers. (ALL the kids wanted a role of a rapper -- too funny.) Toward the end, there is another beautiful scene with the 1940's couple, set 60 years after the first scene, with their large family.
In the end, the confusion is straightened out with the help of a homeschooling mom, her children, a kind priest, and Jebediah's long lost journal.
"The spirit of the tree gives the greatest gift. But that's not what Jebediah was saying. The greatest gift comes from Jesus whose cross came from the wood of a tree."