One of the most famous short stories told during the season of Christmas is the one written by O. Henry (pen name for William Sydney Porter) entitled: The Gift of the Magi.
If you don’t know the story, it’s about a young married couple, who have very little money to buy each other gifts for Christmas. But they each have something of considerable value. The husband (Jim) has a gold watch and the wife (Della) has beautiful long hair. Unbeknownst to the other, each gives away the valuable item in order to buy the other a gift for Christmas. Jim sells his gold watch and Della cuts off her beautiful long hair. If you are unfamiliar with the story, I’ll let you find out how it ends.
The story was written to harken the reader back to The Nativity and compare the young couple’s mutually sacrificial gifts with those of the Biblical Magi.
The author writes: The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the new-born King of the Jews 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. 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. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as donors they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.
What makes this story so wonderful is the sacrifice offered by both Jim and Della. But what makes this simple sacrifice so moving is that their sacrifice echoes the greatest sacrifice offered by The Wisest Man: He, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. ~ Titus 2:14 This is precisely why the New Born King had to come…in order to die for big sinners like you and me!
The following clip is a very sweet rendering of O. Henry’s classic short story from the makers of Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie play out the same dilemma with Bert giving up his paperclip collection and Ernie his treasured rubber ducky. Of course, it’s Mr. Hooper who is most touched by their equally sacrificial giving and wants to return the blessing.