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While I recognize that O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" is old-fashioned and reeking of sentimentality, I still feel touched by it every time I read it. I think this is because O. Henry himself sincerely felt the emotions he was describing while he wrote his Christmas piece. He was probably drunk and influenced by all the Christmas carols and the window decorations and the sadness that always comes with that time of year, especially in a big city like New York; but there is still a real sincerity in his story. The reader can't get any feeling out of a poem or story that the author doesn't experience while he or she is writing it. The feeling i get when I read "The Gift of the Magi" is the feeling O. Henry was experiencing when he wrote it. I don't know how much he knew about love, but he knew a lot about poverty and hardship.
I think my biggest lesson from this story is the meaning and sacrifice behind the gifts that we give and receive. So often in this materialistic age we give expensive gifts without much thought or care, but this story really challenged me to think about what presents I give to whom and how much I sacrifice to give those presents and what that says about that relationship. Returning to the original spirit of the Magi involves self-sacrifice and love.
I love the irony in "The Gift of the Magi." Both Della and Jim have such good intentions, and you just know each of them is going to appreciate the sacrifice of the other. I find myself waiting for that inevitable reaction when they realize what has happened--priceless!!
As is typical of O. Henry, there is a sentimentality and a humor in his "The Gift of the Magi." A very touching story, it goes to the heart of what love truly means. The irony of the "two foolish children" being the Magi is delightfully sentimental, one that touches nearly every reader.
What is most impressionable from this story is the value we place on love. From the birth of Jesus until today, we often jump through hoops to make the ones we love happy. Della and Jim both sacrificed what was most precious in order to give the other happiness. However, what we often give to one another is useless. As it was with the wise men and Jesus, the baby Jesus received gifts that were not sensible. What would a baby do with incense? What would he do with gold? Perhaps a blanket or small toy would make more sense, but the wise men wanted to show their love through sacrifice.
Likewise, Della and Jim gave up long locks of hair and a prized pocket watch to purchase something expensive for the other. The thought was what counted. Della reacts to her gifts proudly.
"But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"
In time, she would be able to enjoy them. Knowing his sacrifice, and he hers, they would relish in the love behind the gifts.
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