One of my favorite Christmas stories is The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry published in 1905. It is a perfect story of gift-giving, sacrifice, and love that two people have for each other.
The story takes place on Christmas Eve, Della Young discovers that she has only $1.87 to buy a present for her husband Jim. She visits the nearby shop of a hairdresser, Madame Sofronie, who buys Della’s long hair for $20. Della then uses the money to buy a platinum pocket watch chain for Jim to use with his treasured watch. When Jim comes home from work that evening, Della admits to him that she sold her hair to buy him the chain. Jim gives Della her present– a set of ornamental combs, which she will be unable to use until her hair grows back out. Della gives Jim the watch chain, and he tells her that he sold the watch to buy the combs. While the gifts that Jim and Della received cannot be used, they represent the extent each went to show the other their love, and how precious that love truly is. The story ends with the narrator comparing these sacrificial gifts of love with those of the biblical Magi.
One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Three Wise Men (The Magi): Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. This year our gift-giving and receiving will look very different for most of us. This quarantine and Covid-19 have prevented us from being with our loved ones and having our usual Christmas experiences. The truth is, though, that the true gift of Christmas is the baby Jesus Himself and that gift is ever present in our lives.
This is a wonderful time of the year. This year it is not perfect but if Christmas can help point our hearts toward spiritual growth, we can rejoice even in the imperfections of this season. If we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to the spirit of Christmas, we will recognize wonderful things happening around us.
Try to focus on the positive. Do not think about all that is missing or wrong this Christmas, but rather find ways to create and become a blessing for someone else. Do not focus on just surviving, but rather work toward thriving during this time of pandemic/quarantine. May this Christmas season remind us to share our gifts with the people around us. It is by giving that we will then receive.