Though it takes a distant back seat to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as our favorite Christmas literature, The Gift of the Magi has two distinct advantages over Scrooge and the Spirits. First, it’s an American story, written by Greensboro native O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). And second, it’s a short story. Very short.
Most everyone knows the basic plot. Poor wife sells her beautiful hair to buy a chain for her husband’s prized pocket watch. Poor husband sells prized pocket watch to buy combs for wife’s beautiful hair. Both are disappointed, and yet realize the love that’s demonstrated by their gifts. It’s a typical O. Henry surprise twist ending.
The story has been told and retold in many forms in the century since it was written. At least four versions have been filmed, the most recent being a Finnish adaptation. You can read the whole thing from start to Finnish (oh, I’m so sorry) in just a few minutes here.