How does "The Gift of the Magi" relate to today's society?
The lessons in The Gift of the Magi are timeless and relevant in every generation. The message of the story refers to the over commercialism of the Christmas holiday which secular society has sanitized, removing the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for the holiday. All traces are prevented from being openly acknowledged to satisfy a small number who desire to neutralize the presence of religion in American society.
Christmas is not about buying gifts, expensive or small, it is about welcoming the Son of God into the human world. Even though the birth of Christ is exploited by every store as a way to boost sales, most store clerks are not allowed to say Merry Christmas, they MUST say Happy Holidays. Yet, Christmas is a legal holiday.
The story accurately relates the purity of Jim and Delia's love and how they don't need expensive gifts to celebrate Christmas. Jim and Delia symbolize the sacrificial love that God felt for his children and sent his only Son to save.
The meaning of Christmas should be restored to our society, and respected, Christmas is a federal holiday because of its significance to the United States of America, a country founded on the Judeo/Christian principles.
This story contains a great lesson for younger children, as well (in fact, it appears in cartoon version in a Disney holiday movie). These days, it seems like Christmas wish lists and sending Santa a list of demands dominate the pre-Christmas season. Jim and Delia teach us that the gifts people appreciate the most are the gifts that demonstrate love. My husband and I have tried to teach our children that we buy them gifts at Christmas because we love them, but we are not going to go overboard to "buy" their love with a ridiculously large number of gifts.
When you give someone something that means something to you, or something that causes you a personal sacrifice, it means more to them than if you just buy them something at a store. Jim and Delia show us that during the holidays and any time we should put others before ourselves and always look for ways to show our loved ones how much we care about them.
Because the United States is slowly reeling toward a state of financial depression, and many people are feeling the economic effects of this, there is one big lesson to be taken from Gift of the Magi that could apply to today's society:
No matter how bad things are financially, no matter how strapped someone might be for cash, there is always the possibility for ultimate generosity. Even though Jim and Della are comparatively poor, they find a way to sacrifice their most prized possessions to demonstrate their love for one another. In the end, their acts of generosity result in bittersweet irony, but the value of the emotions behind the gifts is not diminished in the least. This is why they are considered "magi," or wise ones.
On the more pessimistic side of things, I wonder how many people are able to be content with simple, heartfelt gifts. It seems we live in the "gimme" society, though things have been generally more difficult recently. I wonder, too, how willing people today are to sacrifice as Jim and Della did.