Saturday, December 19, 2009

Short Story Saturday: The Holiday Edition

"Gifts of the Magi" by O. Henry

Do you read the classics?

I don't, much. But O. Henry holds a special place in my heart. My dad introduced me to his stories, so for that reason alone, he's a sentimental author for me. But his tradition of surprise or twist endings are especially delightful in the context of the Victorian period language-- I think we get used to "old-fashioned" or "classic" equating to "dry and stuffy." At least, I do.

Anyway, "Gifts of the Magi" is a holiday tale about a young, financially-struggling couple and how they celebrate Christmas one year. It's not what you'd traditionally call a romance, but it is absolutely romantic. It's a beautiful, deceptively simple little story about love, and sacrifice, and the true meaning of giving. It references the Wise Men of the Christian nativity story, but I believe it transcends religion.

Most of us probably know how it goes, but have you actually read the original story? It's really worth it. Read it again or for the first time this year. Read it to your kids one evening instead of watching "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" for the 11th time.

You can find the original text online, courtesy of Project Gutenberg, or you can download it.

[edit] Or alternatively, a nicely illustrated version at Fifty Two Stories. (Shout out to Jackie for the pointer!)

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate this time of year. May the gifts of the magi be yours this season.

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Do you have a short story to share?

3 comments:

aimeewrites said...

I remember reading this in the 7th grade! I haven't read it since, but I think I'll have to pick it up now. Thanks!

Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, we had a musty old O Henry book I used to love. What a nice Christmas idea.

sanjeet said...

I should add the Putney, since I have really enjoyed some of her other books.

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