“One dollar and eighty-seven cents."
This is how O. Henry's short story - 'THE GIFT OF MAGI' - begins. I am yet to come across a Christmas tale, as moving as this one. It's simply an ageless classic. Simply immortal!
It is a story about the true spirit of gifting and sacrifice. It is about the silent strength of true love ... It is about trust, faith, simplicity and, above all, the true spirit of Christmas: the imitation of the Christ!
It is, a true challenge ... for any one. Yes, whether you are a Christ's follower or not!
This story can not be retold, here, the way the great author had done. Any attempt to do so - is like desecration of the Sacrament! So precious it is.
Suffice this much:
Only one day to go. Tomorrow would be Christmas. In a small apartment, Della counts her savings. It is one dollar and eighty-seven cents! All those pennies saved over the months, with small little sacrifices, with love, with the sole objective of making a Christmas present to her beloved husband, Jim. She is dying to surprise him, in the evening, when he would return home.
Jim, too, wants to surprise her sweetheart. And, he, too, is broke!
Each of them has a precious possession: Della has her knee-long golden hair; and Jim, his rare golden watch. So, they long to surprise each other this way: Della would sell her hair, to buy an exquisite golden chain for Jim's gold watch; while Jim would sell his gold watch to buy lovely combs - carved out of pure tortoise shell and jewelled rims - for Della.
Della is waiting with abated breath, and Jim returns home, with quiet pride. The surprise is only a heartbeat away!
Till they realise the magnitude of the sacrifices they have made for each other!
We had this little fable for our studies in our 12th standard. About thirty-five Christmas seasons have passed by. And, till this Christmas, it has stayed alive in my heart ... making me humble, making me hopeful.
It is not 'Turkey', wine and cakes for me this Christmas. It is 'Goose'. Yes, goose pimples!
They are asking me, "What are you going to do tonight?"
"The mid-night mass," they all know it.
"What about the party ... the celebration?"
I thought of telling them about Della and Jim's celebration, in stead. Probably, they do not know about it.
Tomorrow will be Christmas.
Video courtesy: YouTube