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The Gift of the Magi — Part II

The Gift of the Magi – Part II

Hello, everyone.

Yesterday, I posted a diary about O Henry’s magnificent little story, “The Gift of the Magi.”

This morning, on my Facebook wall, I found a story that has been around a long time.  But as I saw the header, I thought, how beautifully this story compliments my diary of yesterday.  I have no idea who first told this story, but whoever he is, all credit goes to him.  Here is the story.

“There once was a farmer who had some puppies for sale.  He made a sign advertising the pups and nailed it to a post on the edge of his yard.  As he was nailing the sign to the post, he felt a tug on his overalls.

“He looked down to see a little boy with a big grin and something in his hand.

“‘Mister,’ he said, ‘I want to buy one of your puppies.’

“‘Well,’ said the farmer, ‘these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal.’

“The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back up at the farmer and said, ‘I’ve got thirty-nine cents.  Is that enough to take a look?’

“‘Sure,’ said the farmer, and with that he whistled and called out, ‘Dolly.  Here, Dolly.’  Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly Followed by four little balls of fur.  The little boy’s eyes danced with delight.

“Then out from the doghouse peeked another little ball; this one noticeably smaller.  Down the ramp it slid and began hobbling in an unrewarded attempt to catch up with the others.  The little boy pressed his face to the fence and cried out, ‘I want that one,’ pointing to the runt.

“The farmer knelt down and said, ‘Son, you don’t want that puppy.  He will never be able to run and play with you the way you would like.’

“With that, the boy reached down and slowly pulled up one leg of his trousers.  In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.  Looking up at the farmer, he said, ‘You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.’

“A little choked up, the farmer gently lifted the puppy up and set it in the boy’s arms.

“‘How much?’ the little boy asked.

There is no charge for love,’ responded the farmer.”

There is no charge for love!

In O Henry’s story, Jim and Della Young each sold his and her most prized possession to buy the other a gift that enhanced that possession.  That is the ultimate expression of love.

But so is the story about the crippled little boy and the crippled little puppy.  It is heart-rending to see him skip the healthy puppies and choose the crippled little runt.  It takes a special person to choose the one with imperfections.

People make a big deal about the birthday of “Jesus.”  They call him the “prince of peace” and “Love personified.”

How wrong they are!  “Jesus” NEVER learned the lesson that Jim and Della Young have to teach, or the one that the little boy has to teach, for that matter.  In Matthew 10, he flat-out says that anyone who loves anyone else more than they love him is not worthy of him – a megalomaniacal statement if there ever was one! In Luke 14:26, he demands that we hate those who are dearest to us in order to be his disciple.  The word “hate” used here is interesting.  It does NOT mean “love less,” like Christians would have you believe.  The original Greek word is ”miseo,” which means “hate, detest, despise, abhor.”  The word exists today in our words “misogyny” – the hatred of women, and ”misanthrope” – someone who hates mankind.

It is interesting to note that NOWHERE in the four Gospels is “Jesus” ever recorded as saying the simple little phrase “I love you,”  nor is God ever recorded in the Old Testament as expressing love for his creation, including man.

Jim and Della Young teach a wonderful lesson about what true love really is.  So does the little boy in the story above.  And those lessons can best be expressed in the farmer’s statement, “There is no charge for love.”

There is another beautiful statement that expresses the farmer’s statement in a longer statement.  That statement is I Corinthians 13.

“There is no charge for love.”  That is a message that is worth remembering and living by for the entire year, not just at Christmas.

Seasons Greetings, and may each of you have a blessed holiday season.

Bill

 

December 25, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Religion | , , | Leave a comment

The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi

Hello, everyone.

It is Christmas time yet again, and that means that in churches and homes across the land, people will be reading about and singing about the so-called “Christmas Story” in Luke 2.  However, there is a story that, in my opinion, captures the REAL story of Christmas far better than the Luke yarn, and that is the story “The Gift of the Magi,” by William Sydney Porter, better known as O Henry.  I reread the story in preparation for this diary, and here is the link I used:  https://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/Gift_of_the_Magi.html

I first learned of the story 60 years ago when I was a freshman in high school.  Being a boy, I approached the story as a boy, but at the same time, there was something about that story that grabbed me and never let me go.

Everyone knows the story, so I don’t have to rehearse it here.  It is the story of a young couple, Jim and Della Young, who had no money but who loved each other almost to the point of death.  A key element in the story is that each had a possession that he or she was tremendously proud of.  Here is O Henry’s description of those prized possessions:

“Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.”

They loved their possessions, but they loved each other even more.  And Christmas being Christmas, with the overemphasis on the financial side of the holiday, they wanted to celebrate, to the point that each did the most supreme act for each other that they could do.

As I said earlier everyone knows the story, so I don’t have to retell it.  So I will move to the last 2 paragraphs of the story:

“”Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

“The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

I cried as I reread the story.  I am fighting to keep from crying as I type this.  Why?  Because this story is possibly the greatest expression of love that was ever written.

My late wife Carol and I lived in California, and we had a hard life out there.  I was never able to find a real job – jobs were nonexistent when we were there – so we had to live on Carol’s salary as a church secretary.  We were so much like Jim and Della that it was not funny.  The main difference is that instead of a watch and glorious hair, our prized possessions were each other.  Carol and I loved each other to the same degree that Jim and Della did.

Earlier, I said that that I thought that “The Gift of the Magi” was a far greater Christmas story than the story in Luke 2.  How so?  During this season, for some bizarre reason, our focus is on each other and our love for each other.  We want to care about and do for those who are the most precious people on earth to us.  Sometimes even old grudges are swept away and relationships restored.  Like the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, not because of some baby born somewhere – if that event really happened – but because the thought of “peace on earth, good will toward men” actually does hold sway to some degree.

If the truth be known, towns and cities are filled with copies of Jim and Della Young – people who truly love each other to the point of sacrificing for them.  These sacrifices need not be monetary or even of one’s most prized possessions.  The sacrifices can be of time, such as helping someone in a store reach for something or helping a person who has fallen on the ice.  They can be spiritual in understanding and accepting someone who doesn’t believe as you do.  It can be one’s pride, such as realizing that no political position is worth sacrificing a friendship or relationship that has existed for decades.  As O Henry says, of those who give gifts, those who give the gifts that I have mentioned are the wisest people.  They are the Magi.

Seasons Greetings, and may each of you have a blessed holiday season.

Bill

 

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment