The gift of the magi is a wonderful short story by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). The story revolves around the life of the loving couple Della and James Dillingham and their efforts to gift each other the best presents at Christmas.
When the story starts we find Della being plunged into grief because she couldn’t raise enough money to buy a suitable present for James, her Jim. In spite of having a meagre income two things processed by Dillighams were the pride of their life – Jim’s ancestral gold watch and Della’s beautiful long brown hair that fell below her knees like a cascade of water.
The unconditional love of the couple for each other is revealed when we find Della selling her hair to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim’s gold watch and Jim selling his gold watch to buy a set of beautiful combs of pure tortoise shell – those combs which Della’s heart had always yearned to have but could never dream of actually processing. When finally she had got them her long hair was gone and Jim could no longer wear the platinum fob chain. When Jim asked Della to put away both the gifts with a smile on his face,(as of now those gifts were of no use to either of them) we see pure love in their eyes. Here comes the relevance of the title.
The young couple sacrificing everything they have of value to give each other the best presents are wisely compared to the three wise men or magi, who according to the Christian new testament, travelled to Bethlehem to deliver three presents to baby Jesus. The gifts the magi gave to Jesus are considered to be prophetic gifts. Similarly, the gifts Jim and Della gave each other were the wisest gifts of all because self-sacrifice in the name of love is the wisest gift.
This story is worth reading not only because of the simple use of language but also because the author had succeeded in mixing the finest qualities of life, like generosity and unconditional love.