The Gift of The Magi – By O. Henry – Part 2

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance, Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side, and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoiseshell, with jeweled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length, she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head, and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

 

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The Gift of the Magi – By O. Henry – Part 1

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.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch, Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Here’s How To Bring Up The Future To Your Partner In A Non-Scary Way

Undefined relationships or “just seeing where things go” can be all fun and games until you’re a few months in, wondering, “What is this?” or “What are we doing?” Even if you’re enjoying each other’s company, there’s still a chance you might ultimately want different things. Because of this, bringing up the future with the person you’re dating can be daunting AF. But talking about the future doesn’t necessarily have to be scary. For one, examining the bigger picture of why you’re scared can help you gain perspective on the situation. According to Dr. Alexandra Solomon, a licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert, some of your fear might stem from the way young people have been socialized to approach dating.

“The current dating climate tends to skew toward a vibe that is low accountability, low vulnerability, and high ambiguity,” Solomon tells Elite Daily. This causes people to shy away from asking important questions, including whether or not your partner sees a future with you. “People tend to have this question on the tip of their tongue for a long time before they take the risk of asking the question,” Solomon says.

That being said, there is no perfect time to ask the other person about the future. When you find you’re biting your tongue about what you want and where you see the relationship going? That’s when you should have the conversation.

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“This is especially true if the reason you’re suppressing the urge is that you are afraid of coming across as ‘drama’ or ‘high-maintenance’ or ‘needy,'” Solomon says. “If you stay silent when you want to speak, you’re teaching yourself to settle for ambiguity when you want clarity.” Holding your tongue can also stir up feelings of resentment.

Not only will it be helpful to clear the air before any bitterness kicks in, but chances are, your partner might also be nervous about asking the “future” question. “Keep in mind that if you’re sitting with this question, the other person is likely sitting with it, too,” Solomon says.

She recommends picking a time when you’re both relaxed and feeling present enough to talk. One concrete example of how you can start is: “I think you’re such a wonderful person, and I’m really enjoying the time we’re spending together. Can we talk about where this is going?” Framing it in this way invites vulnerability and collaboration, Solomon explains. Approaching the other person in a positive and curious way can go over so much better than saying something accusatory or stress-inducing, like, “I guess I have to bring up our relationship status since you don’t want to,” or “All my friends what to know what’s up with us.”

If your partner does see a future together, you can get the ball rolling on “defining the relationship.” If they say that they don’t, Solomon says, “Your job is to assess the degree to which the other person is in their integrity.” For example, your partner might say they’re enjoying your time together, but they need to approach the next level of your relationship slowly because of trauma, their current stage of life, or the self-growth that needs to take place. Or your partner might say they simply don’t see a future with you because they’re just having fun.

“In the first example, the person is in their integrity,” Solomon continues. “They are honest about enjoying what you’re building, they are taking responsibility, and they are wanting to make sure the situation feels tenable to you. In the second situation, there’s low accountability and no space for empathy. The consequence of continuing to see someone in the second scenario is self-abandonment.”

If you do decide to continue dating this person even if they don’t want to define their relationship with you, Solomon recommends asking yourself, “What beliefs do you carry that allow you to accept less than what you want or need?”

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Even if the other person says they don’t know whether they see a future together, you can still find nuance in their answer. An “IDK” that translates to “Stop asking about the future and take what I’m offering you,” is different from an “IDK” that translates to, “I’m speaking my truth, but tell me what you want and need from a romantic relationship right now.” If your partner means the latter, Solomon says “Their transparency and honesty might help you feel calm, connected, and ready to remain for a while in a space of exploration, connection, and possibility.”

Apart from taking the time to talk, listen and see what’s up on your partner’s end. Again, don’t forget to examine your own feelings. That includes the bigger picture, like the state of your current relationship, but also the smaller (but still very important) picture, like your true desires. Forget what the “low-accountability, low-vulnerability, high-ambiguity culture” has told you: What do you want out of the situation? It’s easy to get caught up in whether the other person likes you, but don’t forget to advocate for what you want, too.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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25 Funny Instagram Captions To Use After A Breakup That Show You’re OK

If your Instagram looked like #relationshipgoals up until your recent breakup, you might feel compelled to share the news of your split with your followers. (If Miley Cyrus can do it, why can’t you, right?) But if long, vulnerable captions aren’t your style, you might want to opt for funny Instagram captions to use after your breakup to convey that you’re newly single and going to be just fine.

If you’re not exactly feeling super funny today, don’t worry. This list has got you covered. Whether you want to just go with a hilarious Lizzo quote that shows how fabulous you are or you want to get some people sliding in your DMs as soon as humanly possible, this list is filled to the brim with options for every mood.

Rather than blowing up your group chat trying to come up with the best caption, let this list do all of the heavy lifting for you. Read each one of them and copy and paste whichever feels the truest to how you’re feeling onto your next Instagram post. Are you ready for this?

Summery young woman smiling and texting on cute bicycle in sunny city

Shutterstock

“My DMs are open for sliding. #letthegamesbegin”

This is a not-so-subtle and hilarious way to announce that you’re back on the market. Get ready for your followers who have been silently thirsting after you to pop out of the woodwork.

“Does anyone have Tyler Cameron’s number? Asking for a friend (that friend is me).”

Or sub in Travis Scott, Kristen Stewart, etc…

“You coulda had a bad b*tch, non-committal.”

As if this list would be complete without at least one Lizzo quote. If you want to send your ex a hilarious but also majorly passive-aggressive message, I’d go with this one for sure.

“no ring, no prob”

Pair this with the most DGAF picture you have for maximum LOLs.

“🎼 AND IIIIIIII-IIIII-IIII WILL ALWAAYS LOVE MEEEEE 🎼”

Give your own single-person spin on the Whitney Houston classic.

“PSA: I’m back on the market.”

I mean, the public really deserves to know this information. So, why not announce it PSA-style?

“I am Beyoncé always.”

Michael Scott has gifted the world with plenty of great quotes, but this may be one of his best. Quote the GOAT in your caption to let people know that you’re thriving on your own.

“FYI, Grandma you can stop asking how [ex’s name] is doing.”

Again, this is a little petty. But sometimes being a little petty is funny.

“Realized I’ll probs never find a love like the one I have for pizza & am totally cool with that.”

If you’re a pizza lover, go with this caption to let people know you’ve still got your bae.

“You used to be my cup of tea, but now I sip Champagne.”

I saw this on a t-shirt once and am just still not over it. So petty. So hilarious. So great.

“Made like Elsa and decided to let it go.”

Why not throw a little Frozen reference in there?

“Like Halsey, it turns out I’m bad at love… but I’m good at taking shots so who’s down to meet me at [insert fave bar here]?”

If you’re trying to party, go with this caption. Invite your friends out for a night of celebrating your newfound single status.

If someone is dishing out compliments, experts say it may be a sign they're into you.

Shutterstock

“thank u, next-ing & thriving”

Nothing like a good old-fashioned Ariana tribute.

“I’m good on my own.”

You came into this world alone and you’ll leave it alone, so being single is only natural. Let people know you’re back to being solo and loving it.

“Back together with my Day 1 (me) & we’re happier than ever.”

Just wait for the praise-hands emoji comments to roll in.

“We (are) on a break!”

Obvs, we had to throw a Ross/Rachel tribute in there for those of you who are, in fact, on a break.

“Who wants to help me come up with a fire Tinder bio?”

This is funny but it also shows you’re actively moving on.

“Back to doin’ what I do best: me.”

A little spicy.

“Hot take: There is no greater joy in life than sleeping sprawled out starfish-style in the middle of your bed.”

Have you ever tried doing this? It’s truly one of the greatest spoils of being single.

“singlin’ & minglin'”

You’re not just single and “ready” to mingle, let everyone know you’re out there actively mingling.

“Being a ‘relationship person’ never really quite felt on brand, anyway.”

This is a pretty cheeky way to announce that you’re really embracing and loving the single life.

“Single until I find a human I love more than chicken fingers.”

This will likely be never and I totally get that.

“Still not sure why I’d want a [BF/GF] when no human could ever be as loyal (or gorgeous or smart or cool) as my dog.”

True.

“Imagine waking up in the morning and getting to do WHATEVER YOU WANT without taking ANYONE ELSE into consideration… That’s pretty much every day of my life now, so I’d just like to publicly congratulate myself on that here.”

Ah, nothing like a good, old-fashioned congratulatory post.

OK, now take your pick and show the world just how fine you really are.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

8 Fundamental Ways Being Cheated on Changes You

For the worse … and for the better.

Catching your husband or wife cheating on you changes everything about your relationship. How could it not?

“The psychology of infidelity is actually quite complex, much more than the current moralistic conversation about it where people are ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘flawed’, therefore dismissed as damaged goods attempts to dispel the cliché myth that ‘once a cheater always a cheater.’”

If you want to fix your broken relationship and save your marriage, it is possible. And the path back to a healthy relationship begins with each partner seeking to understand both the cheating spouse’s reasons for having an affair, as well as the ways in which the betrayed husband or wife has been changed forever as a result.

By taking such an approach, couples can reach a place of healing — and even redemption — with insight and wisdom, regardless of whether or not they ultimately stay together.

The ways infidelity changes you depend not only on who you and your spouse were before the affair, but who you are both committed to becoming once it’s out in the open.

No matter what circumstances led to the affair, no one in its wake will be left unscathed. Yes, that goes for the cheating wife or husband, as well.

There are always reasons, not excuses, why men and women cheat.

If you have been betrayed by your spouse, you’re painfully aware of the many ways their infidelity has changed you already.

But if you are the betrayer, you may not have thought through full impact your actions would have on your spouse and your family, let alone the lasting consequences you’ll face throughout your own life.

The effects of infidelity run the gamut from emotional to physical to neurological. The agony of a broken heart and broken trust isn’t only in your head — it lives and breathes in your body, too.

Here are 8 ways catching your husband or wife cheating fundamentally changes you on an emotional, physical, and neurological level.

1. Your self-esteem and self-worth are shattered

You wonder why you weren’t “good enough” and why someone else was “better”.

Because your self-esteem is destroyed, you start looking for things you may have done to cause your cheating wife or husband to stray. Surely, you believe, it must have been something you did or didn’t do.

2. You feel stupid

You start wondering how you didn’t see the affair coming, and how you can ever trust your own instincts again.

3. You lose your ability to trust

The affair is always in the back of your mind. Even if you stay together, your trust isn’t as unencumbered and naturally given as it once was.

4. You’re afraid to love again

The prospect of either falling in love again with someone else or staying with your spouse is frightening. You never want to give your power to someone again.

Because you’re afraid to let your guard down, the world becomes a less happy and promising place in which to live. Holding onto the notion of love is a challenge because you now associate it with unbearable pain.

5. Your brain takes a beating

Neuroscience has shown that the rejection from infidelity has both short and long-term consequences to brain chemistry.

Since feelings of love activate the release of dopamine in the brain, causing “a pleasurable experience similar to the euphoria associated with the use of cocaine or alcohol”, being cut off by the dagger of infidelity may impact neural pathways in similar ways.

6. You experience physical pain

The emotional experience becomes integrated into the physical experience, and you hurt … everywhere.

7. You can’t stop obsessing

Studies show that women are more prone to rumination than men, constantly replaying all the possible causes, scenarios, and consequences of the affair.

They are also more inclined than men to feel somehow responsible for trouble within romantic relationships in general.

8. Your eyes are opened

Despite how infidelity changes you negatively, it also affords you clarity after the shock and anger are mitigated. You begin to see what you may have ignored, and learn how you make choices in mates.

Research has show that this is likely to lead you to make better choices in future relationships.

According to Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author of the study:

“Our thesis is that the woman who ‘loses’ her mate to another woman will go through a period of post-relationship grief and betrayal, but come out of the experience with higher mating intelligence that allows her to better detect cues in future mates that may indicate low mate value. Hence, in the long-term, she ‘wins … The ‘other woman,’ conversely, is now in a relationship with a partner who has a demonstrated history of deception and, likely, infidelity. Thus, in the long-term, she ‘loses.'”

Ultimately, how your partner’s infidelity changes you is, of course, your decision.

There are plenty of individuals and marriages that heal and become stronger and more vital than they were before.

That’s not to say, obviously, that infidelity is a viable consideration for marital improvement and personal growth, but recognizing the many ways infidelity can change you will help both spouses recover from the painful aftermath of an affair.

And, hopefully, greater awareness upfront will take the consideration of infidelity off the table altogether.

 

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