Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Favorite Holiday Story

Sharing a holiday favorite . . .


~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.

This post was originally published last December for

Christmas & Holiday Themed Books in December.

This week I'm joining


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. Sarah, what a great story and I was born in Greensboro, too.

  2. This has been a favorite story of mine. Thanks for sharing it with us all

  3. Sarah,
    I have always loved this of the best ever!!
    Miss Bloomers

  4. Hi lovely lady.
    I love your sweet story sweet lady.
    I have my Grandmothers beautiful long hair. I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family.
    XXOO Diane

  5. What a wonderful tribute to a magnificent story. So perfectly executed.

    - The Tablescaper

  6. This is a lovely story. I read it long ago. Thank you for sharing it now.
    New follower. Stop by & follow me, too. Growing Old With Grace
    Hugs, GraceinAZ

  7. Bonsoir Sarah. Thank you for your visit today. I have really enjoyed this story. I had never heard of it before. When I took my first trip to the United States, as a high school graduation gift from my parents, I stayed with my American penpal... in Greensboro, NC. Small world. Thank you for this great story of self sacrifice and selfless gift giving. A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  8. This story never gets old, and never loses its power to bring a lump to my throat. I'm glad you posted it again.

  9. I enjoyed reading this story on your blog last year and it was well worth the retelling, thanks for sharing it once again.

  10. Sarah~ I loved this when you shared it last year! It's such a classic & heartfelt story~ what giving truly is about.

  11. I love the story and your post is wonderful!!

  12. Good Morning Sarah,

    Yes, this is indeed one of my faves! If we could all love with that same degree of unselfishness..WOW, what would the world be?

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Sarah, beautiful post featuring one of my favorite Christmas stories. Thanks for the research, too! Happy Seasonal Sunday!

  14. Hi Sarah...

    The Gift of the Magi is such a wonderfully sweet story! I have not read the book but have watched the movie. In fact, I just watched a movie, a more modern version of this same story, last week. It was wonderful! I will have to check into getting the book. This was such an interesting post, my friend! I really enjoyed reading about the author and seeing photos of their home.

    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story and post with us for the Sunday Favorites party, Sarah!

    Have a super Sunday, my friend!

  15. Sarah, I love the story and what giving is all about.

  16. Sarah, I love the beautiful and timeless story of the "The Gift of the Magi" Thanks for reminding me of it. Hope you had a good weekend.

  17. Thank you for reminding me of this beautiful story of selfless love.

  18. This is one of my favorite stories, Sarah, and I think YOU did an equally beautiful job illustrating it for this post! I enjoyed seeing a photo of O Henry's early home.

  19. What a beautiful story Sarah and I want to thank you for visiting my theatres, your support means a lot to me :)

    Keep inspiring your beauty.

  20. Sarah, I think we don't those stories much anymore so thank you for sharing and reminding us that we should give selflessly. Thank you also for the nice comment on my blog. ----------Shannon

  21. I always loved that story!
    Hope all is well and you are getting your Christmas preps done. Sunday we were working outside putting up lights and wreaths and our neighbors walked over. They spend summers and weekends here, and travel a lot. Last year they bought an apt on Park Ave. They said they don't decorate, just a wreath. They enjoy the decorations of the city, and it saves them the work.
    Sounds good to me! But I do enjoy the warmth of the lights and decorations, so I still do it. I try to cut back each year!

  22. Sarah, this was one of my all-time favorite posts! I am so glad you published it again!
    The little bark pencils are cute! I am glad you found some, and you were sweet to think of me! Merry Christmas to you, sweet friend! Christie

  23. What a wonderful touching story Sarah. The chop looked good too! Hope you are having a lovely season so far with all the parties and festivities going on all around.

  24. Thanks so much for the info...that is one of my favorite all time stories!!!

    God bless and have a magnificent holiday season sweetie!!!

  25. Sweet story, bittersweet! Looks like a beautiful book! I love books like that. I recently posted some of my Nutcracker books that have lovely illustrations.


  26. Sarah, the beauty of this story always brings tears to my eyes, and reading your condensed version with your pictures was no exception. It is such a wonderful, heart tugging story, and I always love reading it at Christmas time. Thank you for this beautiful post. laurie

  27. Hi Sarah, This is a story well worth the time to read again. A beautiful tribute for a story of unselfish love.
    So sorry I'm late stopping by.
    Hope your looking forward to a great weekend.

    The French Hutch

  28. Sarah, What a thoughtful story to post for this Christmas. It's always been one of my favorites to read! I never knew the author spent time in prison...I'd say those three years gave him much to ponder and it sounds like God used that time in his life to make him a better man. Amazing......I'd love to read more about the man behind the pen in this case! Thanks so much for sharing! ;)


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