I needed a quick short story with a Christmas theme to fill some downtime, and I recalled this short story from an American Literature class assignment. It is as relevant now as it was in 1906, and shows the lengths people go to prove their love, even if it means sacrifice.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Della and Jim are a young couple on a modest income, living in a modest apartment. Della counts the $1.87 she has left, and decides that if she is going to be able to get the gift she believes her husband should have (a fob for his pocket watch), then she needs to make a sacrifice. Likewise, Jim has this belief that if he is to be able to get a coveted item for Della, he must make a sacrifice. Neither one of them knows that the other has done this, but upon finding out, their love for each other grows deeper than the superficial love they seemed to have at the beginning of the story. By the end, both have grown and developed a deeper understanding of each other.
I first read “The Gift of the Magi” as a junior in high school (1999) around Christmas time in my American Literature class. I liked the story of a couple who willingly sacrifices what they believe is love (though it is material and superficial) to get something material and superficial for each other.
I was looking for a quick Christmas short story during some downtime a few days before Christmas, and this story did not disappoint in the least. It was as important and nice as it was when I first read it almost twenty years ago, and being in a relationship moving toward marriage (six months and counting!), it feels more important. If I were faced with a similar moral dilemma, I would not be as rash as Della in her decision, but I would try and figure things out to make Christmas less about material goods, and more about love. That, my friends, is the most important gift.
I highly recommend this story. 🙂 Merry Christmas!