The Gift of the Magi

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The holiday story The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, has been a favorite of mine for many years. Written in the early 1900’s, the story features a poor married couple named Della and Jim. Della wants to buy Jim a wonderful Christmas present, but she has only $1.87. She sells her fabulous long hair to earn enough money to buy him a fancy watch chain for his gold pocketwatch. In the meantime, Jim sells his watch to buy Della fancy tortoiseshell combs for her hair. So they have essentially given each other useless gifts, yet the true gift is in the sacrifice of something valued and loved.

The irony of selling items to buy accessories for those very items gives this story a timeless tragic feel, but the strength of this couple’s love shines in the sacrifice they make for each other. People today have a good many possessions, so many that ‘the most valuable thing I own’ has little or no meaning. Most people would be hard pressed to choose just one precious thing that they value over everything else.

The concept of giving up that valuable thing, therefore, is difficult to comprehend. Who might you give it up for? Parents? Spouse? Siblings? Maybe a special aunt or grandparent? So many people are blessed with both material things and family members who care for them that it is dificult to put yourself in Della and Jim’s position. Nonetheless, this story tugs at my heart every time I read it.

1 thought on “The Gift of the Magi”

  1. Submitted on 2012/05/10 at 10:13 am

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I love how both character give to buy to give. They trade their possessions to buy new ones for each other.

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