The perfect gift
A. Ray Lee
As the days wind down to Christmas some are still searching to find the perfect gift for a special person. In his heart-rending short story, The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry writes of a young married couple spending their first Christmas together. In their love and devotion, each searched for the perfect gift to express the depth of that love.
It was Christmas Eve and the young couple had very limited funds. The wife had searched through the stores and settled upon a gold chain to compliment the treasured watch that had been passed to her husband from his grandfather. But it cost $20 and all she had was $1.87.
The only thing of value she possessed was long flowing hair which when let down reached her knees. When brushed it shone and glistened in the light.
Her husband also had been searching for the perfect gift. He had seen a set of jeweled combs in a store window and could visualize how they would look in his wife’s beautiful hair. But their cost was far above any funds he had.
In his unique style, O. Henry gives us an unexpected ending to the story. Each found a way to give a gift of love beyond material things. Tearfully the wife sold her long tresses that she had treasured through the years and purchased the chain. The husband sold his family heirloom and purchased the combs. O. Henry concludes the story by indicating how the couple had given their most treasured possessions out of love and sacrifice. After reflecting upon what they had done, they lay aside the material gifts and reaffirmed their love for each other. They had given out of hearts of love. Now they gave themselves anew.
O. Henry compares their giving to that of the wise Magi who followed the star of Jesus many miles and months after Jesus was born bringing costly gifts worthy of a king. When they found Jesus, their greatest gift was giving themselves in worship. That was the best gift they could give for one who would give himself for them. A perfect gift must convey the love of the giver, even the giving of self.
In this season of gift giving let us remember faith teaches us that God is a giving God. John reminds us that he so loved he gave. When he looked down upon his creation and the need he saw he gave the perfect gift. He gave a gift of himself even his only begotten son to become a sacrifice for our sins.
Can we do less than the Magi? We must not forget the words of James; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the father of lights.” (James 1:17)