We all know the O. Henry story “The Gift of the Magi.” So, I’m not giving away any spoilers by telling you that it’s about the young wife who sells her hair to buy a chain for her husband’s pocket watch, only to find that he sold his pocket watch to buy combs for her hair.
O. Henry intended the story to show the value of sacrifice, but I wonder if readers over a century after its first publication see it that way. They might see the poor couple as foolish because they gave up two things of value and wound up with two useless ones.
Was this couple’s sacrifice wasted? And what does sacrifice mean in the 21st century?
This has been a hard year for many people I know. I have friends who were forced out of their homes during the recent California fires. A coworker of a high school friend was killed at the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks. I’ve been in touch with people who lost friends at Stoneman Douglas. A long-time coworker was laid off months after his wife died.
Even if no tragedies affected you this year, we all suffer from a persistent dread of what is happening in the world. We look at Washington and see endless chaos. We look at the economy with a nagging sense that something terrible is about to happen. We no longer look at the future with confidence.
With things as they are, how do we celebrate Thanksgiving this year? How do you show gratitude when you’ve lost everything?
I started on my NaNoWriMo project, but life, as it often does, has other ideas. I already knew I would have hernia surgery later this month. And then, we got a call from our Registrar of Voters asking for volunteers to be poll workers. They are expecting a large turnout for these midterms, even bigger than the 2016 presidential election. I couldn’t write about the importance of voting and democracy without doing my part, so I volunteered.
Everyone who writes has their time limited in some way. Family emergencies, overtime at work, distractions from social media, or just those dry spells when words don’t seem to come. Write anyway.
Recently, Manuel Oliver presented a 3-D printed statue of his son Joaquin at Times Square. I’ve talked about Stoneman Douglas before on this site. But this particular story says something about how we view death — and how we value life. It’s important we look at this, especially with all that has happened in the past few days.
By now, you’ve heard plenty of people (including myself) tell you how crucial these midterm elections are and how important it is for you to come out and vote. If you are still unconvinced, let me tell you about my hernia.