Thursday, December 2, 2010



~Written by O. Henry ~

~ Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger~

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI is not a new publication, and no doubt many of you reading this post have read this story of a young couple's sacrifice and love for each other. William Sidney Porter's short story was first published in a New York City newspaper in 1905. Since that time it has become known as a classic Christmas story of poverty, selfless love, and generosity.

Tis the day before Christmas and Della is distraught because she has but $1.87 with which to purchase a gift for her beloved husband, James. The young couple, struggling to make ends meet on $20 a week, lives in a bleak apartment in New York City.

The couple has but two treasured possessions among them ~ "Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters" and "Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's." After a heartfelt cry, Della sets out onto the streets of the cold city to Mme Sofronie's Hair Goods of All Kinds. Then with another $20 in hand, Della spends the next two hours in search "of something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim."

With gift in hand, Della returns home to "repair the ravages made by generosity added to love." With heated curling irons her short hair becomes a mass of tiny curls, and she feels intoxicated with joy knowing that she has purchased the perfect Christmas gift for her beloved Jim ~ a fob chain for his treasured gold watch.

"At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops." When Jim walks into the apartment and see's Della's short bob, Della cannot read the expression on his face. He draws Della to him and then pulls a package from his pocket. For Jim had purchased a set of tortoise hair combs that Della had long admired in a shop window along Broadway.

Holding out the precious metal watch fob in her hand, Della hears Jim say that there is no longer a gold watch to be chained. For Jim has sacrificed his treasured gold watch to buy the tortoise combs for Della's vanished hair.

Wise beyond their years and full of selfless love for one another, Jim says, "Dell, let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at the present. . . . And now suppose you put the chops on."

William Sidney Porter, who wrote under the pen name of O. Henry, is known for witty and playful stories that end with a twist. He was born in Greensboro, NC in 1862. Porter moved to Austin in 1884 where he later married Athol Estes. He and Athol had a daughter, Margaret Worth Porter. The young family lived in this house which now serves as the O. Henry Museum.

It is both a National Registry Property and a National Literary Landmark. Specifics about the museum can be found at

I recommend you pick up a copy of Lisbeth Zwerger's beautifully illustrated version of this famous story available here on Amazon. It's a perfect story to share the true meaning of gift giving ~ gifts given from one's heart with self-sacrifice and the generosity of love.

And now, let's eat that chop.

Joining Jain's Food for Thought featuring
Christmas & Holiday Themed Books in December



The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. It was lovely to be reminded of that sweet story. How beautifully you illustrated your post!

  2. Sarah, I love this post! I don't know why I have forgotten this story. Thank you for the reminder and for the lovely pictures!! I am going to get it! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Christie

  3. What a beautiful post and you did the book such justice. I adore this touching story. I can't read it without crying. Love is such a powerful thing. The chop looks fabulous too. Have a lovely weekend.

  4. I've always loved this story~ how appropriate for the holidays! I have admit though that I always cringed at her shearing her locks :-)

    I didn't realize O.Henry was born in Greensboro. I grew up in High Point which 20 minutes away, Greensboro was the big city~ LOL!

    Your chop looks delish~ Have a great weekend!

  5. I had forgotten too..Your post is magical:) In the true spirit of Christmas..Tender.

  6. oh sarah, you don't know how much i love this... and so beautifully presented. i can remember the first year sitting in our living room when my mother read this story to us. it became a tradition, the fire would be roaring, the tree in the corner, our coffee table had the 3 wisemen and i would just sit and listen with fresh ears every year... you have made this all so vividly clear for me like it was yesterday...

    and to see the house... its magical to me~

    and how come i didn't remember chops?!

    love love loved this, thanks so much, it puts tears in my eyes, its my first christmas with both my parents gone this year and this floods me with happy memories...

  7. Dear Sarah,
    this is the nicest Christmas story I ever heard. I know it since many years and it still gives me the creeps when I read it. Thank you for remainding us.

  8. Sarah, this is such a poignant story & one that personifies the whole meaning of Christmas....selfless giving out of love for another.
    Its a wonderful reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.

    The pork chops look wonderful, but I would like to know WHERE you got that lock of hair?????

  9. I LOVE THIS. Not only is Porter my favorite short story writer, but that's one of my favorite stories. I love how you featured the story and his museum in your post plus, of course, the Food for Thought.

    That's such a fun party. I want to make some time this evening to read more of them.

    Totally enjoyed this!

  10. I've forgotten about this story too! Thanks for the reminder and for the beautiful post.

  11. One of my favorite Christmas stories. Thank you for the reminder.

  12. This bittersweet story brought back memories of when I first read it!

    Thanks for sharing this post and the first one of the tiny books. I enjoyed both!


  13. I love that story. It is Christmas at it's finest. Thank you for the memories and the lovely post.

  14. I've always loved this story since hearing it on the radio many, many years ago.
    I think maybe it's time I had the book on my shelf too, don't you?

  15. Oh Sarah, such an inspired presentation of a delightful tale! It is one of those Christmas stories you never forget. I do need to be sure my children have heard it. Thanks for the reminder. Thank you for making your book presentations a part of Seasonal Sundays!

    - The Tablescaper

  16. I have always loved this story. I bought the version in your post...the illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger are so beautiful.

  17. I enjoyed reading this beautiful post, Sarah, and seeing the O.Henry Museum in Austin. If I ever visit Austin I'll be sure to see this as I am a fan of O.Henry's works.


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