The joy of brightening other lives, bearing others’ burdens, easing others’ loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.
W. C. Jones
The Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Jim and Della Young. A young couple just starting out in the world together and living in hard scrabble tenement in New York City that cost $8 per week. Furnished. Sure, they were poor, but they were in love so all was well—until the Christmas season rolled around.
Through shrewd bargaining with grocers and other shopkeepers, Della had managed to save money to buy a Christmas gift for Jim. Her problem was that you couldn’t buy much with $1.87. She was beside herself with tears. Jim had fared little better. But when he arrived home from work on Christmas Eve, he carefully carried a treasure he knew Della would adore, all wrapped in tissue and paper and tied with a string. But the only thing on Della’s mind was a gift she had for Jim. She could barely contain her excitement in anticipation of seeing the expression of joy on his face when he opened what she had found for him. Della’s pride was her hair: “rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her.” Jim’s pride was a gold watch that had been owned by his father and grandfather.
Jim’s gift to her was a set of combs, “side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims.” Della’s gift to Jim was a “platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch.”
All was wonderful except the small detail that Jim had sold his watch to buy Della’s combs—and Della had sold her hair to a wigmaker in order to buy his chain.
But in his classic short story, The Gift of the Magi, William Sydney Porter, better known to the world as O. Henry, wrote:
The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe 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. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But 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. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
The Christmas season is fun and exciting as we open presents—but it is even more joyful for the opportunity to share from our abundance with others.