Monday, 7 October 2019

A Gift for Christmas

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                           A Gift for Christmas







One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time. Three times Della counted it. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing that Della could do except to throw herself on the dirty little couch and cry. While Della is crying let us take a look at her home which is a furnished flat at $8 a week. You see signs of poverty wherever you turn your eyes. What else can you expect when Della’s husband, Mr. James Dillingham Young, earns just $20 a week? Della finished crying. She went up to the looking-glass and began to powder her cheeks. Then she stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking on a grey fence in a grey backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Oh, the many happy hours she had spent planning for something nice for him! Something fine and rare, worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim. Suddenly Della turned away from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour all of a sudden. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took great pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair.



the watch. As soon as she saw it she decided that it was the right present for Jim. She paid twenty-one dollars for it and hurried home with the 87 cents that remained. When Della reached home, pleased with the present, she grew nervous as she thought calmly about what she had done. She looked at the reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. She brought out her curling irons and began to curl her hair carefully. The tiny curls made her look like a schoolboy. ‘If Jim doesn’t kill me,’ she said to herself, ‘before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a boy. But what could I do-Oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?’ At seven o’clock the coffee was made and everything arranged to get dinner ready. Jim was never late. Della sat on the corner of the table near the door with the watch chain in her hand. Then she heard his step on the stairs. She turned white for just a moment. She prayed, ‘Please God, make him think I am still pretty.’ The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two and he was burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim’s eyes were fixed on Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise. He simply stared at her with a strange expression on his face. Della got off the table and moved towards him. ‘Jim, darling,’ she cried, ‘don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I had to buy a Christmas present for you. I just had to do it. My hair grows so fast-you don’t mind, do you? Say “Merry Christmas! Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice – what a beautiful present I’ve got for you.’ ‘You’ve cut off your hair?’ asked Jim, speaking with
difficulty. ‘Cut it off and sold it,’ said Della. ‘Don’t you like me just as well, without my hair?’ Jim looked about the room curiously. ‘You say, your hair is gone?’ he said with an air almost of disbelief. ‘You needn’t look for it,’ said Della. ‘It’s sold, I tell you - sold and gone. It’s Christmas Eve, Jim. Be good to me, because I
did it all for you. ’Jim seemed to wake up at last, and to understand. He kissed Della. He suddenly remembered that he had bought something for Della too. He drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. ‘Don’t make any mistake, Dell,’ he said, ‘about me. Whatever happens I shall always love you just the same. Now open the package and you will understand why I behaved as I did.’ Della’s white fingers quickly opened the package. And then at first a scream of joy followed by a quick feminine change to tears. For there lay The Combs – the set of combs, side and back, that Della had seen in a Broadway window and liked so much. They were beautiful combs, so expensive and they were hers now. But alas, the hair in which she was to wear them was sold and gone! She took them up lovingly, smiled through her tears and said, ‘My hair grows so fast, Jim!’ And then Della jumped up like a little cat and cried, ‘Oh, oh!’ Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly on her open palm. ‘Isn’t it lovely, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at your watch a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.’ Instead of obeying, Jim sat down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
‘Dell,’ said he, ‘let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep them awhile. They are too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now please get the dinner ready.’

Glossary:

expenses (noun) :  operating cost The salary he gets barely covers his expenses.

rare (adj) : uncommon It is rare to find sincerity these days.

possession (noun) :  owning something The gang was caught in possession of cocaine.

cascade (v, noun) :  flowing like a small waterfall Water cascaded down the stairs. The cascade made a lovely scene.

falter (verb) :    to become weak His courage never faltered.

flutter (verb) :    to move quickly The flag fluttered in the breeze.

critically (adv) :  with disapproval She spoke critically of her sister.

feminine (adj) :  qualities connected with women This dress gives you a typical feminine look.

scream (verb) :  loud cry The boys were screaming with excitement.
 

1. Because she did not have enough money to buy present for her husband.
2. The house was small. The sofa was small. Their clothes were old.
3. She has planned for something nice and fine for Jim.
4. Jim’s gold watch and Della’s long hair.
5. She bought a platinum watch chain for Jim.
6. She sold her hair.
7. She felt nervous.
8. He simply looked at her with a strange expression on his face.
9. She said she did not have enough money to buy present for him.
10. A set of combs.
11. He sold his gold watch.


Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $ 1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars week doesn’t go far.
Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Oh, the many happy hours she had spent planning for something nice for him! Something fine and rare, worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.























There was no other like it in any of the stores. It was a platinum watch- chain, Simple but well made. It was worthy of the watch. As soon as she saw it she decided that it was the right present for Jim.









At seven o’ clock the coffee was made and everything arranged to get dinner ready. Jim was never late. Della sat on the corner of the table near the door with the watch chain in her hand. Then she heard his step on the stairs.
She turned white for just a moment. She prayed, ’Please God, make him think I am still pretty’.



The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-tow and he was burdened with a family!
He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves Jim’s eyes were fixed on Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise.


He simply stared at her with a strange expression on his face.


He was only twenty-two and he was burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. He earned 20 dollars a week.




















In fact, the first men who brought gifts for Christ were the Magis. They are also called the Magis brought gifts for the new born Christ in Bethleham.
 According to the Gospel of Mathew the magi found Jesus by following his star, which thus traditionally became known as the star, of Bethlehem. On finding him, they gave him three symbolic gifts.


That is why this story is titled the gift of the Magi.. O. Henry has tried to equate Jim and Della with the Magis, the wise men. Both of them used their wisdom to buy very beautiful and much needed gifts as Christmas presents.