Remember that great short story, The Gift of the Magi, that we had to read once upon a time in high school literature class?
Gosh, I loved that story.
But then I’m a sucker for any story with a surprise twist at the end. And, when it’s a sentimental story about love and sacrifice, WITH a surprise twist thrown in at the end, then you’ve got the perfect short story, ranking almost up there with Rebecca and To Kill a Mockingbird as one of the best of the best high school reads.
For those of you who don’t remember it, due to possibly having a life outside of books during high school (what would that have been like, I wonder?) it’s about this young couple (Jim and Della) who are struggling to make it, living on love, and barely able to afford their rent.
Christmas rolls around, and being that they’re so in love, they each plot secretly to buy the other one the perfect gift. Della thinks up the perfect thing for Jim: a chain for his prized heirloom pocket watch. And Jim, for Della: some pricey accessories for her gorgeous long hair. (It was written in a different time, ok?)
But being that they’re so very poor, no gift was to be had without a little creativity and a lot of sacrifice.
So Della cuts off her tresses and sells her hair, unbeknownst to Jim, and Jim… you guessed it… sells his pocket watch, to come up with the funds to buy a perfect Christmas gift for his beloved.
Thus… rendering the Christmas gift they are buying for each other… Completely useless.
But so very sweet and meaningful. And probably the best, most heartfelt and touching Christmas gifts Jim and Della would receive in a lifetime, and for sure the most memorable.
It was unfair though. They shouldn’t have had to do it, for Pete’s sake. Jim should have been able to keep his watch, and Della should have never had to lose her identity… Her signature… Her hair.
In a perfect world. If all was fair.
But that’s just love I guess. You give without expecting in return, sometimes something so very dear to you that it kinda hurts. But when it’s love you do it, because there is nothing more precious to you than each other.
At least that’s what we all dream of having.
I imagine Jim never regretted the loss of his grandfathers pocket watch, though it must have cut him to the quick to sell it… So great was his love for Della. And Della must have cringed the first few times she looked in the mirror and didn’t look quite like herself, because her beautiful hair was now short… But her love for Jim was greater than her love for her hair.
Some things you do for each other will come easily: I mean, if someone wanted me to promise I’d never wear Wranglers, smoke cigarettes or shop at Wal Mart, NOT. A. PROBLEM.
For the right person, I’d go beyond what came easily to give up some things I might even like. I’d be happy to never listen to a note of country music again, if that was the deal breaker. I’d never drink a drop of Diet Dr. Pepper ever again, if thats what it would take to make him happy. And I like those things!
Heck, if a guy made a big sacrifice for me, I’d give up my very, most favoritest things ever… Things that would hurt me. But only for the right person.
Shopping in Dallas with Marla! Oh… but that would hurt something awful…
Caramel Macchiatos! Blonde Highlights! My kids!
Just kidding, of course! I’d NEVER give up my blonde highlights for a man!
The point is, that’s what you do when it’s love. It ain’t fair, it often takes you out of your own comfort zone, and sometimes it hurts.
But it fuh sho’ beats being alone.
And I guess that’s the wisdom of of love and sacrifice.
The last paragraph of the short story reads like this:
The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.