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