"The Gift of the Magi" is a popular short story written by O. Henry which narrates the life of a young married couple and how they find a way of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. Being an emotional story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been one of the most popular of stories for adaptations for a long time, especially for presentation during the Christmas season. The plot and its "twist ending" are well-known, and the ending is generally considered to be an exhibition of situational irony. It was allegedly written at Pete's Tavern on Irving Place in New York City. In this story, O. Henry tells us how two people sacrificed their most valuable possessions to buy gifts for the person they loved; just like the three wise men, the Magi - who brought presents for Infant Jesus. Here is a synopsis and the complete plot of this heart-touching Christmas day story.
'The Gift of the Magi', written by O. Henry, is a short story which tells us about Mr. and Mrs. James Dillingham Young, and the events that occur on one Christmas Eve. This couple that also goes by James and Della who, with little money but immense love for each other, finally go on to sell their most prized possessions to buy Christmas gifts for each other.
Mr. James Dillingham Young, a.k.a. Jim, and his wife, Della, live in a humble flat. Both have one possession each which they value above all other. For Della, it is her beautiful, abundant hair and for Jim, it is a gold watch that belonged to his grandfather. The next day is Christmas and they have very little money in hand. To buy a Christmas gift for Jim, Della sells her hair for $20, and buys a platinum fob chain for Jim's watch for $21. Excited and delighted to have finally found a perfect gift, she arrives home and starts to prepare dinner. On returning home, Jim is stunned when he finds Della with short hair. Terrified by his expressions, Della then admits that she sold her hair for $20 to buy him a present. Della then learns that Jim has also brought her a present - an array of expensive combs for her hair (referred to as "The Combs"). When Della reveals the chain that she bought for him, Jim replies that he sold his watch to get the money to buy her these combs. Now, though both of them have Christmas gifts that they can't use, they are still happy to have found perfect love - their real Christmas present.
The story ends with the narrator comparing the pair's mutually sacrificial gifts of love with those of the Biblical Magi. The narrator remarks that though Jim and Della's presents didn't turn out to be useful yet they are the wisest givers of all.