Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.


January 11, 2010

One Last Christmas Post


I have a couple dear friends who have recently lost their chance at adopting a baby (the mother decided to keep it). As a result, I have been having the hardest time writing them their Christmas card (I am soooo late, I know).

I know they've taken comfort in the coming of Christ, and the joy of the season, but I cannot exactly write to them saying: HURRAH! It's Christmas! The BEST time of the year. Nor can I offer condolences--it is not as if they baby had died.

As I was sitting down to finally write this card, I kept thinking about O Henry's beautiful short story The Gift of the Magi. It tells of Della and Jim, a newly married couple who are so poor that they sell their own most treasured possessions to buy something beautiful for the other. Della cuts off all her hair so that she can purchase a little chain for Jim's pocket watch. And Jim sells his pocket watch to buy tortoise shell combs for Della's hair.

O. Henry finishes the story saying this:
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. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

I'll be honest--I am not sure I can draw out exact parallels between my friend's loss, and Jim and Della's. And yet, I feel they share something in common. Jim and Della give all that they have and all that they are to each other--and therefore are "foolish children" and considered "unwise". But, in the logic and language of love (God's specifically, and ours, imperfectly) they are the wisest of all men.

So too my friends work and sacrifice and love, trying to build a family together. They were denied this chance (and have been before), and yet they continue to turn to each other and to Christ--ever devoted, ever foolish. They, too, are the magi.

Read the whole story here. Illustration found here.

2 comments:

Gardenia said...

lovely post. why not send your friends exactly what you wrote here. that would be the perfect message in a Christmas card.

Lee & Kelly said...

So beautiful, M. I had the same trouble, though didn't come up with anything as lovely as this.

On an unrelated note, almost all of my Christmas cards are late this year and yours went out in the mail today!

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