Do you believe it is wise to give up your most treasured possession to buy something meaningful for a loved one?  Why or why not?

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englishteacher72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would gladly give up a treasured possession (unless it was given to me by a departed loved one) if it meant my husband could enjoy a meaningful present from me.  However, I would NOT want him to give up one of his most prized possessions just to get me something I'd love, and I'm pretty sure he would feel the same way.  I would say that giving up a treasured possession is unwise, although it is one of the ultimate ways in which a person can show their love and devotion to another.  What greater example of true love is there than sacrifice?  Of course, it would definitely stink to find out that we had both given up our prized possessions in order for the other to enjoy something related to said prized possessions.  Gotta love O. Henry and his use of irony!

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The irony in 'the short story 'The Gift Of The Magi' by O Henry would put me off from surprise presents between spouses! The wife gives up her hair to buy her beloved husband a gift she thinks he would really love. He puts a similar amount of thought and effort into getting her present - the irony is that she needs her hair in order to make any use of it, or to enjoy the hair combs at all. So I think complete surprises are out! I would enlist the help of friends, his work colleagues and family to guess at the most wanted present - and at my own. I would probably even double-check with him before parting with any money i couldn't refund! At least one could say about O Henry's story that hair grows again.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would not want my wife to give up her most treasured possession so as to buy something for me the way Della does for Jim.  I think that I would feel selfish if I enjoyed something that she had gotten by giving up what she most prizes.

I think that people who are truly in love don't need to have their partners/spouses buy them things to prove their love.  I would not want my wife to feel like she had to give up something important to buy me something when she can just prove she loves me by being who she is every day.

So I don't know if it's wise -- but I wouldn't want my wife to feel I would want her to do that.


M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would be willing to sacrifice anything material if my son *for example* had longed for something that could make him happy. For example, I'd sell my condo or all the things it has taken me lots of years to collect for him to go to his college of choice, or to help him (for example) get his first car to transport himself back and forth idependently. I wouldn't, however, enable my son by spoiling him through my own sacrifices. I would do it, however, if it is something he really wants AND needs at the same time.

krishna-agrawala | Student

It would be foolish to give up your most treasured possession for anything other than what is treasured more.

If the joy of loving someone, of serving him or her by buying buying something meaningful, is more valuable than the possession you give up in the process, then it is definitely a profitable deal.

If the joy of giving does not more than make up for the loss of giving up, then it will definitely be unwise to exchange a treasured possession with something less valuable.

I believe this is the central theme of the story Gift of the Magi.  The joy of giving and receiving present from each other was much more valuable for the Magi, than the physical utility of the objects presented. Please note that O'Henry uses the term "greatest treasure of their house" to describe the objects they sacrificed. He does not describe them the most treasure possession of the Magi. Their most treasure possession was, of course, their love for each other.

mkcapen1 | Student

I believe that the depth of loving a human being is about self sacrifice.  Parents often forgo having something special that they really want in order to provide for their children.

My husband wanted to go to college, but we had small children.  He knew how badly I needed to get my education.  I felt like I was nothing without it.  My self-esteem was low.  He stayed home at night with our children while I attended classes.  We scraped money to pay for classes over seas so I could even take some on the German economy.  It was a long hard struggle.

The day that I graduated I realized just how much he had sacrificed for me.  I could never be able to repay the gift.  Since then he has obtained his education, but he did so much for me. 

My grandmother and mother during World War II were in hiding from the Nazis.  My grandfather had been placed in a concentration camp.  They had the opportunity to escape from the country.  My grandmother and mother refused to leave.  They wanted to be nearby should my grandfather get freed.  They knew they were risking their own lives, but they also knew that he would have never left them.

When the camps were freed they searched hard to find my grandfather.  Their efforts paid off.  He thought they had gone to another country.  I remember my granmother tellig me that they had suffered greatly but the sacrifice had been worth it.  She told me that even if he had died it would have been worth it because she had been loyal to him.

I only hope that I could be so self sacrificing for those I love.


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The Gift of the Magi

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