Header Image (book)


Sunday, December 21, 2014

O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" and Jack Schaefer's "Stubby Pringle's Christmas"

The final sentences of the story reminds us of something that we too often lose sight of when giving and receiving Christmas gifts: true wealth is not material but rather spiritual love.
...[I]n 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.
Updated reading of the classic 1905 tale by O. Henry (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910):

A lesser-known Christmas story, with a drastically different setting, by another American author:

Jack Schaefer, best known as the author of the 1949 Western novel Shane, wrote a delightful Christmas story called "Stubby Pringle's Christmas."  Read the 1964 story HERE.

Of such is the Christmas spirit as the characters in the two above stories illustrate.

May each of us find that same spirit in our own hearts this Christmas!


  1. I too love that famous story by O. Henry, though I generally disapprove of "updating" classics, it was nicely presented with pretty good background music, even if it was played on a synthesizer. ;-)

    A new friend, who had been the mayoress of my home town long after I'd left, sent this opinion of the story just yesterday.

    "You surely remember O'Henrys Gift of The Magi. -- She sells her long, luxurious hair to buy him a gold chain for his watch, and he sells his watch to by her a beautiful comb for her beautiful hair. That story is not about purchasing gifts, rather, it is about giving gifts of love."

    "When I think about it now, that is an extremely sad tale. It illustrates how false our values can be. Surely, she must have known how much he enjoyed looking at her lovely hair, stroking it, etc. And yet, she cut it off. Wouldn't he have rather caressed her silken tresses than hang his pocket watch on a gold chain?"

    "C'est la vie!"

    This new friend is put it mildly an individual who enjoys provoking controversy even in the mildest situations. Very nice she is, but can't seem to help trying always to inject a note of disharmony into nearly every discussion, although I doubt she thinks of it that way. She's a liberal, of course, so perpetual dissatisfaction, provocation and discord are to her simply a normal way of life.

    At any rate, I was astonished that she seemed almost willfully to miss the point of the story, which, I think, the author spells out very clearly at the end -- namely that the beauty of sacrifice for the sake of love is far more valuable, far more beautiful, -- and far more meaningful -- than any material objects we might possess.

    Their willingness to give up their finest material assets to try to please each other is the very reason the tale is so touching. The irony is there, of course, but it's wryness is gentle, and the husband's good humored acceptance is exactly what it should have been.

    1. FT,
      I listened to so many readings of "The Gift of the Magi" before I finally chose this one. I didn't care for the voices on the other versions, so I got stuck with this updated version.

      Apparently your friend who critiqued the short story doesn't "get it" about "the nuances" of life. I'm sure that she thinks that she sees all the nuances.

      I often read this story with my middle school classes. Never has a single student missed O. Henry's point!

  2. Giving comes from the heart, not from obligation.


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective