Every year, without fail, a certain re-telling of O’ Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” has the ability to bring me to tears. Always one of this English teacher’s favorite stories, it’s been told and retold on countless screens by many classic characters. I’ve seen Disney versions, BBC adaptations, sitcom spins…the story is everywhere. So, what version has me welling up? Well, the earliest one I can ever remember seeing, the one I saw long before I read the classic story…and it all took place on Sesame Street.
Just the other night, for the first time this season (although I will see it again!) I watched Bert sacrifice his paper clip collection for a soap dish for Rubber Ducky and Ernie turn over his beloved Ducky to procure a cigar box for Bert’s shiny paper clips. Small gifts, a soap dish and a cigar box…much smaller than O’ Henry’s hair combs and watch chain…but meaningful gifts. These gifts, even the youngest Sesame Street fan can tell you, would be just what Bert and Ernie want for Christmas! Those two pals don’t have much, you can tell that from looking at their tiny apartment, but each of them is willing to turn over what he loves best in order to make sure his dearest friend has a truly Merry Christmas. Now, because this is Sesame Street, it all works out in the end and neither is parted from his Ducky nor his paper clips. ( How you may ask? Go re-watch…Mr. Hooper’s gift to the two of them and their reaction is what truly gets me bawling!)
What sends rivers down my cheeks is how even a show aimed at the very young can get the message of what Christmas is truly all about across so very clearly. For we know, God did not give easily when He gave us His son on a long ago night in a stable. He gave from His heart, His most beloved gift, knowing what waited at Golgotha thirty three short years later. And yet, He gave…a gift of pure love, the kind of love only God can give us.
Now, centuries later, everyone from O’ Henry to Bert and Ernie remind us that, at this “most wonderful time of year” while all gifts bring joy (I am hoping the American Girl doll under the tree brings a truly delighted smile and a memory I will always treasure!), it’s the gifts that come with that sense of overwhelming love that are the ones to be treasured the most. And so, as you wrap and stack and label this season, ask yourself the same question I will be asking myself as I take on that never ending stack of wrapping. To whom am I the Magi? What gift, given out of pure love, do I bring to Christmas 2018? What of my heart am I giving this year?
And then, pause, reflect, and open your eyes with wonder. See the loving gift that a Magi in your life, be it large or small, tangible or intangible, has brought to your Christmas this year. Bless the Magi, the ones that travel into our hearts each Christmas season, the ones that O’Henry created, and most importantly, the ones so long ago who followed a Star…
See the Magi in your life…be the Magi in someone else’s… at Christmas and always, give with love.