A Christmas Story
Do you know the poignant Christmas story by O’Henry called The Gift of the Magi?
It is the tale of a young married couple of limited means – each yearns to buy a gift for his/her lover. To find the cash to do so, each forfeits something dear.
Della sold her hair to buy Jim a fob for his keepsake watch; and Jim sold his watch to buy Della a beautiful comb for her luxurious locks.
True love knows no bounds!
Even as a totally self-centered eighth grader I understood the poignancy of the message: It’s the thought that counts. And no amount of holiday buying can replace a love-filled handmade gift or a simple card with a timely message.
In the Christmas’ of my past, I enjoyed doing my last-minute gift buying with my daughter Zoe. While Annie and little Jess stayed home, we would look for something special for Annie and my mother Barbara.
One year we drove to New Canaan to visit a wonderful craft store called The Elements. Zoe and I would play Christmas music and gaze upon the holiday lighting and count the number of Christmas trees that glowed from inside the windows of the homes we would pass. We set the record at 125 one year!
That year money was really tight. The late 80’s had it’s own recession –“Black Monday” – when real estate values plummeted and construction contracts disappeared.
Yes indeed, money was tight – but it is a joy to give! I loved making the women in my life feel beautiful. The Elements was the place to go. I had in mind a pair of handcrafted earrings, one for Anne and one for Barbara. We carefully selected two pairs of dangle silver Cloisonné, very chic!
We still had stocking stuffers to shop for and I needed some extra cash. I kept my fingers crossed, not sure if the ATM would honor my request. No Good. Denied. Damn. It would be a really lean Christmas. Somewhat dismayed, we left the bank lobby and window-shopped our way past the bookstore and the toy store down the street.
About 15 minutes later I realized that I had left the package with our prized earrings behind. We quickly retraced our steps and upon arrival found our bag was gone! It was certainly stolen and it was real easy to feel the victim. The bright lights of Christmas dimmed a little at that moment.
The O’ Henry story speaks of true love and sacrifice – heartfelt emotions that transcend the gifts of the comb and the watch fob. Della and Jim still had each other and their sweet love.
I know perfectly well that the orgy of consumer spending that we know of as “The Holidays” redistributes wealth and makes or breaks the merchant’s year. But enough already!
In a time of catastrophe, where it seems that so much of the collective history of the planet is shattered, it may turn out that the road to heaven, not hell, is paved with good intentions.
So I say this:
There is no greater gift than our love for one another.
The “I” that speaks and listens sends this love out to you.
It is wrapped in warmth and tenderness,
And contains the whispers of a million blessings
For peace and prosperity for all!