Monday, September 10, 2007
Lines to Remember 11 (On Giving)
"No man is so poor as to have nothing worth giving. Give what you have. To someone it may be better than you dare to think."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I am reminded of an O’Henry story where a poor couple gave up something of themselves. Although these were without much monetary value, they were prized personal possessions.
This may not be an accurate retelling but it is faithful to the gist of the tale.
It was the day before Christmas and both of them have not yet bought a gift for each other because after having spent for groceries to have a simple Christmas dinner and a few cents for the sparse yuletide adornments in their small apartment, nothing was left for buying gifts.
The girl had a beautiful mound of hair which she brushed with vanity to encourage a lustrous sheen on the soft curls. Her tresses were her source of pride. The man knew how much she wanted to buy a fanciful hair clasp that would go well with her crowning glory but had been putting off buying it.
The man, on the other hand, had this precious object, which for the paucity of possessions, was his most treasured item. It was a hand watch which his father gave him. It was not the expensive kind but its silver case and the roman numbers on an ivory-like dial face gave it a dignified quality that more than added to the sentimental value it had for him.
How he wished he could get a fob so that the hand watch could be displayed much more to advantage. This was a wish that he was quite open about. Every time he took the hand watch from his pocket he would intone with a sigh this hankering.
And so came Christmas morning…
Both of them were beaming with excitement as they held on to neatly wrapped packages. They stood there, the man with one hand in his robe pocket and the other holding on to a package while the girl looking fresh with her towel turbaned around head proffered her package towards him.
“Open it now…” said the girl. And the man without much hesitation opened the gift package to reveal a shiny silver serpentine chain fob.
“Aaw..,you shouldn’t have…really” said the man with a somewhat feigned expression of joy.
“Your turn sweetheart!” said the man.
She hurriedly tore off the wrapping of the package and saw the beautiful hair clasp peering from the soft paper that enclosed it in the box.
‘Oh…Oh…it’s lovely!” she said as she limply laid the gift box on the table.
After a curious moment of unease…she said “I’m sorry but I have a confession to make. Yesterday morning I went to the hair salon and sold my hair so that I could buy you the fob.”
“And I…”, said the man, …sold my watch to the curio shop by the office to get you the hair clasp that you’ve always wanted.”
For a moment they both stood there, motionless for about a few seconds and then, in an exuberant burst of affection, flew into each others arms and went into a smothering passionate embrace.
Gifts valueless at the time of the giving became the ultimate gifts. Gifts of self which will make their love endure a lifetime and herald better Christmases from then on.