On Dec 10, 1905, O’Henry’s famous short story, The Gift of the Magi, appeared in the New York Sunday World. The summary of this classic tale is of a young couple of limited means. Jim’s most prized possession is a pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather and father. Della treasures her long hair that fell to her knees.
On Christmas Eve, Della pays bills and realizes she has only $1.87 left to buy Jim a present. She really wants to buy him a chain for his pocket watch. But the cost is beyond her ability. She suddenly remembers that she can sell her hair. She rushes out, has it cuts, earns $20 and is able to buy the $21 chain.
That night, she pulls out her present and hands it to Jim who has been staring at her in a strange fashion. The reason: he sold his pocket watch to buy her beautiful hair combs that she can no longer use.
In truth, they gave each other the best gift of all: gifts of love given through self-sacrifice.
Fast forward to 2016. Jim owns the latest I-Phone 7, a device he depends upon for everything including time. He didn’t want his grandfather’s wristwatch because it wasn’t high-tech. Della’s prize possession is her MacAir laptop. She uses it for everything from email to watching Netflix in bed, a benefit of her Amazon Prime membership.
But like our young couple of another century, they too are burdened by paying bills, paying off college loans, and coming up with monthly rent because house flippers have run up the price of homes.
What will they give each other?
Jim puts his cellphone in a closet. Della puts her laptop under the bed. From Christmas Eve until Dec 26, they give each other a most rare gift: undivided attention. Imagine!
Something to think about.