Jim and Della face the challenge of buying Christmas presents for each other when they, as a couple, are poor and have very limited funds available for luxuries like Christmas gifts.
However, they each display resourcefulness, imagination, and determination to overcome lack of financial resources in order to purchase "something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by" the other. In the process, they also demonstrate the depth of their devotion and the length to which they are willing to make personal sacrifices in order to please the other.
Della sold her fabulously long hair, which she had probably been growing for most of her life, in order to obtain the money she needed to buy the watch fob for Jim. Jim sold his family heirloom pocket watch, inherited from his grandfather and father, in order to raise the funds to buy the set of tortoise shell hair combs for Della.