Delia and James were a poor couple in their 20’s living in a modest apartment.
They owned very little and took pride in two of their belongings: Delia’s beautiful hair and Jim’s gold watch.
Delia wanted to buy her husband a gift, but the money never seemed enough. A day before Christmas, she was twenty dollars short from the perfect gift: a platinum pocket watch chain! How beautiful it would look attached to Jim’s gold watch!
Standing in front of her mirror, Delia sighed. She took a long look at her hair and shed one tear. Moments later, she dressed up and went to a nearby hairdresser. She asked her whether she would like to buy her hair for twenty dollars. She tried to restrain her delight when Madame Sofronie agreed – it was just the right amount to buy Jim’s gift!
“Oh, he will be so happy”, Delia thought walking back to their modest apartment with the pocket watch chain in her hand. “He will enter the room smiling and when I show him what I have bought him… oh, when I show him! He will embrace me so gently and so lovingly! We will have such a beautiful Christmas Eve, won’t we?”
Jim was never late, and at 7 o’clock, as Delia was daydreaming at a table near the door, his steps could be heard on the stairs outside. Delia looked herself in the mirror and her breath suddenly stopped at a frightening thought. She muttered silently to herself: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty!”
A moment later, Jim entered the room and stopped immovable at the sight of his wife. Delia feared the worst: he didn’t like her without her hair! Yet, his expression was not that of disappointment, nor the expression of any other sentiment she had been prepared for.
“Jim, darling”, she cried nevertheless. “Please don’t look at me that way! It will grow back, I will be beautiful once again before you could say ‘Merry Christmas’…”
“You’ve cut off your hair?”, asked Jim strenuously, drawing a package from his overcoat pocket and handing it over to Delia.
“Oh, don’t be mad! I did it for you… You see, I wanted to buy you a gift as well…”, Delia tried explaining herself while cautiously unwrapping the package.
She couldn’t finish. She screamed joyously before quickly bursting into tears. It was a beautiful set of combs! The very one Delia craved to buy for a long time. It was an expensive set – she knew – and she never thought for a second that she will have the opportunity to hold it in her hands. She sobbed uncontrollably.
Jim comforted her: “Oh, but don’t worry, Dell… You said it yourself: your hair grows very fast. It will grow back in no time! I just had to buy it…”
Delia suddenly remembered that she forgot to give Jim his gift. She handed him the watch chain, ardently waiting for his reaction. “Isn’t it beautiful, Jim? Just give me your watch, I’ll show it to you. It will look perfectly on it…”
“Oh, my dear Delia,” Jim gently smiled as he looked lovingly in Delia’s eyes, “that may be the one thing I can’t do. You see, I sold the watch to buy you the set of combs…”
- O. Henry, the American short story writer who is the original author of this story, says that of all who give gifts, Delia and Jim are the wisest.
- And, indeed, it was a beautiful gift these two shared on Christmas Eve. One that money can never buy.
- You know you love somebody when you can sacrifice your most beloved treasure for him or her. And if someone does that for you – be sure that you are deeply loved.