Monday, December 8, 2008

Sacrificial Love

This week we are tailoring our reading towards Christmas, so we read the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. No matter who tells this story or how, my eyes always water and I am always moved by the love these young people show for each other.

The story goes something like this:

Tomorrow is Christmas and Della only has one dollar and eighty-seven cents. She has been trying desperately to save enough money to buy Jim a grand Christmas gift. Jim and Della live in a modest flat and earn a modest income; there's not much left after the bills are paid each week.

Della has really long, beautiful hair and decides to sell her hair in order to make money for the gift she longs to purchase for Jim. She hurries to the hair goods store, lets down her cascading brown locks, and asks breathlessly, "How much?" The woman gives her twenty dollars and Della is off to find the perfect gift for Jim.

Finally, Della finds a simple, yet exquisite chain for Jim's watch. It is the only one to be found in all the stores; no one else will have one like it. Della has found the perfect gift and races home to await Jim's arrival.

Jim, too, has no money to spend on Christmas gifts and his heart desires to purchase a gift for Della. Jim's only prized possession is a gold pocket watch. He sells it.

Jim doesn't have to search for the right gift for Della because he already knows that she longs for the beautiful combs with the tortoise shell and jewels. Of course, he knows that she will never dream of actually having them in her possession as they are quite costly for someone who earns but twenty dollars a week. This is all the more reason to trade his watch for the look on her face.

But it is the look on Jim's face as he comes through the door that is startling when he realizes that the beautiful hair he purchased the combs for is vanished. And Della's gift is also rendered useless at the present since Jim sold the watch her chain was meant to accompany.

The gift this Christmas was love, sacrificial love.

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