The Gift of the Magi
Author: O. Henry
Goodreads Summary: In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store. O. Henry paints a masterly portrait of unfaltering love, a haven from the harsh world outside.
My Review: O. Henry has put so much emotion in a bit over 2,000 words. It is a beautiful story that left me tearing up and truly embodies the meaning of Christmas: the holiday spirit and true love. You, too, can read this great story thanks to Project Gutenberg- http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7256/7256-h/7256-h.htm
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This story would be a great one to discuss theme and morals as well as a fabulous introduction to O. Henry and classic short stories.
(Also, The Gift of the Magi is the story alluded to in the 2nd Salem Hyde book by Frank Cammuso.)
We Flagged: “One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.”
Discussion Questions: Della wants to get her husband the best gift possible for him, so she was willing to sacrifice her most precious belonging- have you ever sacrificed a precious item to help you get something for someone else? If not, would you? For whom? What is your most precious belonging?
The Shoemaker and the Elves
Authors: The Brothers Grimm
Goodreads Summary: The beloved story of a poor shoemaker, kindhearted elves, and the giving spirit of Christmas.
My Review: This classic is one that is worth revisiting if you haven’t read it recently. There are many different versions, but The Brothers Grimm’s version has an ending that will just warm your heart. Once again available thanks to Project Gutenberg)- http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/grimm10a.txt
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This story also would be a great discussion starter for morals and theme (like most Grimm tales). Another great way to use this story in the classroom is to look at all of the different versions and discuss how the original story has been changed.
We Flagged: “In the morning, after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to say to it. He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece.”
Discussion Questions: Think about a time when someone has helped you even when there was nothing in it for them and share.
Both Recommended For: