In this classic American short story first published in 1909, Della desperately wants to buy her husband Jim a Christmas gift. She has managed to save just $1.87, and it is now Christmas Eve. Without telling Jim, Della sells her most valuable possession, her beautiful hair, in order to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim's gold heirloom watch; while unbeknownst to Della, Jim sells his own most valuable possession, the watch, to buy jewelled combs for Della's lovely long hair. Typical O. Henry irony at its finest.
As if O. Henry's mastery of the English language weren't reason enough to buy this book then P J Lynch's magnificent illustrations must certainly convince you.
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. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.
They are the magi.
It is available this Christmas in a new collection of three glorious books illustrated by Lynch packaged together in an attractive slipcase. Called the P J Lynch Classic Christmas Collection, it contains:
- The Gift of the Magi;
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey; and
- A Christmas Carol.
You can read The Gift of the Magi online, without the pictures here.