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?”

 

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14 Memorable Fourth of July Date Ideas

Wondering how to spend your holiday this independence day? Here are 14 perfectly patriotic and fun Fourth of July date ideas to have a memorable time.

Happy 4th of July!

 

It’s that time of the year again.

For many of us, the Fourth of July is just another holiday to party hard, sleep in, or lounge around at home.

But this time around, it’s time you do something different with your loved one.

This independence day, indulge in a few activities that are fun and yet, patriotic!

14 Fourth of July date ideas

Do you remember the happy Independence Day celebrations you loved so much when you were a child?

What’s stopping you from doing that, now that you’re all grown up?

Instead of just waiting for the fireworks to light up the sky at night, go on out there and enjoy the day.

Here are 14 great ways to make your Independence Day date memorable, fun and oh-so-perfect!

#1 Raise a flag. This is something you can do first thing in the morning!

Plan ahead the earlier night and get together with all your friends or with your lover early in the day, and raise the national flag in front of your house. Sing the national anthem under the star-spangled banner. Really, it’s not going to sound corny at all. In fact, it’ll help you realize just how important the day really is!

And finish the morning off by having breakfast out together in the yard, sharing stories, or making plans for the rest of the day.

#2 Create a tradition. Do you have any Fourth of July traditions that you and your lover rigorously follow? If not, then this year is your best excuse to start a new tradition with your partner, whatever it may be, and make a promise to follow it every year. It’ll be a memorable and romantic way to enjoy Independence Day every year.

And many years later, you can look back at this Fourth of July and fondly remember how the tradition started in the first place.

#3 Have lunch at a restaurant. But not just any restaurant. Pick a restaurant with a patriotic menu with little flags all around! It’ll be a lot of fun to try a few new themed dishes, and it’s a great way to show respect to this special day too.

#4 Watch patriotic movies together. If you just want to relax at home, and yet, want to experience the spirit of Independence Day, pick up a few DVDs where the theme of the movie is about fighting for independence *The Patriot is a good one*. And if you’re not into movies, just watch the live celebration shows on the TV.

#5 Cook with your lover. Bake a cake with your lover or make cupcakes. Everyone loves them, and baking the cakes and dressing them up in blues and reds can be a fun time. Or prepare a whole meal with a patriotic theme.

#6 Dress up and take photographs. Dress up in your blues, reds, and white on this day. A happy relationship is built on memories, so make sure you dress up in your fancy attire and take a lot of pictures together *even if the photos are too personal to show off!* After all, what better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than by creating more memories that can last a lifetime!

#7 Visit historical museums. Plan a special outing with your partner on this day. Go to historical museums or places of historical importance if it’s a short drive away.

#8 Attend a celebration. Every city has several community activities and get-togethers to celebrate the Fourth of July. Your partner and you could go to a concert, a baseball game, or just spend the day at a picnic or by watching a parade. Go out there and have fun, after all, there are so many things you can do in your own city.

#9 Watch a war reenactment. If you get the opportunity to watch a war reenactment around your place, don’t miss it. It’s worth watching, especially if there are a lot of people around in their celebratory best.

#10 Plan a road trip. Go on a road trip with your partner. But make sure you adorn your car by sticking a lot of little flags all around it. It’ll be a lot of fun, and even if you’re just driving around a few blocks and not down the freeway, you’re still spreading the good word.

#11 Have a barbeque. Invite all your friends over and spend the evening catching up with each other. As long as there’s an endless supply of hot dogs and beer, everyone will have a fun time.

#12 Have a campfire. Rent a lakeside cabin or spend the evening on the beach. Light a bonfire and spend some quality time with each other, watching the stars and the fireworks brighten up the night sky.

#13 A night of fireworks. If you’ve got kids around or love lighting up the night sky, buy your own fireworks and sparklers. But if you just like watching the night sky light up, go to a fireworks show with your partner and cheer out loud!

#14 Spend time with family. There’s no better way to spend the Fourth of July than by spending quality time with the ones you love. It’s a perfect way to enjoy Independence Day. Get together on this holiday with all your loved ones, and enjoy the day by planning the activities together or by taking off to an all-day event.

Use these 14 Fourth of July date ideas and you’ll have a great time with your loved one. But remember to have fun responsibly, and most importantly, respect your flag and honor it.

 

4th of July Date Ideas (That Won’t Break the Bank)

Here are a bunch of fun ways to ignite some sparks of your own.

1. Plan an outdoor picnic. We know, it may sound a little clichéd, but grab an American flag blanket at a cheapie store (c’mon, show your patriotism), a bottle of wine, and some American fare to share with your guy. You can bring along a Frisbee or Nerf ball to toss around after lunch. Outdoor eating can be much more relaxed and romantic (not to mention more affordable) than your typical dinner and drinks.

2. Hit up a rooftop bar with your guy. You’ll get to enjoy cocktails in the breezy summer weather, and you might even be able to spot a nearby fireworks show — minus the crowds and mobs of children.

3. Go on a romantic “getaway.” Almost every town has its appeal on the 4th, so head to your local tourist hot spot. Breaking your usual routine and taking advantage of what your town or city has to offer will make you feel like you’re on a mini vacation. Plus, experiencing new activities with your guy is exciting.

4. Bake a 4th of July cake. Don’t go all Betty Crocker on your guy, but baking a festive cake with him can be a flirty, fun way to get some one-on-one time. Top the cake with whipped cream, blueberries, and strawberries. Hint: If you happen to buy too much whipped cream, you can always find, um, other uses for it.

5. Head to an outdoor concert. A lot of cities host 4th of July concert and firework shows (what’s not to like about two-for-one dates?). Check out your local paper to see what’s going on nearby. Don’t feel like springing for tickets? You can usually mingle your way close enough to the concert stage, but outside the seat parameter, to listen to the live music for free.

6. Host a BBQ. We all know guys like to barbecue, so let your man be manly as he grills up the hamburgers and ribs. A casual cookout can be a great way to break the ice and introduce him to your family or friends. Don’t forget the festive cocktails!

7. Do something historic. Google your town or city to find out what local American memorials or museums you can visit. You’ll both learn a bit about the past and get a renewed appreciation for your heritage.

8. Get wet. When we think of July we think beaches and bikinis. If you don’t live near a beach, find a friend with a pool or buy a day pass to a public pool. Upload summer tunes to your iPod and have your guy rub you down with sunscreen and cocoa butter. You two can even sport those corny American flag bathing suits if you feel so inclined.

9. Have a movie night. If you’re far away from the beach and fireworks, invite your guy over for a movie night, 4th of July style. Pick out a few festive flicks and cozy up in front of the TV. Some suggestions: Born on the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and The Patriot.

10. Bond over a bonfire. You could always forgo the fireworks and curl up around a campfire with him. Bring along sparklers to get into the spirit.

 

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

Do You Really Find Love When You’re ‘Not Looking For It’? Experts Say It’s A Mixed Bag

Anyone who’s ever voiced their frustrations with dating has likely been told, “You’ll find love when you’re not looking for it.” Although it can be super annoying to think that actually putting effort into your love-life could be taking you further away from finding love, there may be valid reasons why so many people associate finding love with taking a more passive approach. Unfortunately, relying on luck from the universe rather than putting work into something might not be the most effective way to get things done, either. According to dating and relationships expert and licensed marriage and family therapist Anita Chlipala, if you want to find lasting love, “not looking for it” could be problematic.

“I’m not saying [finding love this way] can’t happen,” Chlipala tells us. “But, do people do this with other things? Do you stop looking for a job, hoping it will find you? Of course not. If you’re dating for marriage, I advise people to be very deliberate and focused on dating because it will be one of the most important decisions of your life.” If being in a loving relationship is important to you, but you don’t follow through with the action it takes to find it, you run the risk of potentially not finding it at all. NYC-based relationship expert Susan Winter agrees that taking this saying at face value might not work, but the deeper message is spot on. “The true message is that we’re far more able to attract love when we’re not frantic, desperate, or needy,” Winter tells us.

Even though it might seem contradictory, the reason some people find loving partners after taking a step back from serial dating makes sense. “In those moments when we’re being ourselves, comfortable with who we are, and going about our day-to-day business, we’re 100 percent natural,” explains Winter. “No posturing, no guard, no tension, and no games. That’s the moment the right person appears because they’re responding to our authentic selves and an authentic connection is made.” It’s not that you shouldn’t be dating or looking for a relationship if that’s what you want, but sometimes, being too aggressive can give off vibes that end up repelling the right matches or attracting the wrong ones. That’s why, when someone stops obsessing over finding love, their energy often becomes more receptive to the real thing.

Dmytro Bilous/Stocksy

Trina Leckie, the host of the breakup BOOST podcast, advises people to stop “looking for love” because focusing on personal growth can be more productive than looking for someone to complete you. “Some people need to work on themselves and build a better relationship with themselves before they can attract a quality partner,” Leckie tells us. “It’s a good idea to take time to reflect on what you really desire in someone or in a relationship and focus on how you can improve as well.”

In the end, finding a good match doesn’t always happen exactly when we want it to. For those who feel burned out by dating, there’s also nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself. However, if being in a serious relationship is a top priority, it’s important to continue actively putting yourself out there in order to meet new people. Just remember that being relaxed, open, and authentic is the best way to attract the right partner.

 

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

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