Senior Connections

About Love and Giving

In considering how to convey to the readers of Senior Connections Magazine best wishes for the holidays, I reviewed what makes Christmas special. Setting aside religion, the elements mentioned most often that seem to exemplify the spirit of Christmas are love, giving, and thinking of others, especially the happiness of others.

I had occasion recently to read a couple of short stories which gave me food for thought about these very subjects. One was entitled The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

The story takes place on the day before Christmas and is about a young couple, James Dillingham Young and his wife Della.

Jim’s salary had recently been reduced from $30 a week to $20 a week so they were really struggling to get by. However, they did have two possessions “… in which they took a mighty pride.” One was Jim’s gold watch which had been passed down from his grandfather, to his father, and then to him. The other was Della’s long, beautiful hair. It was so long that it fell below her knees and was so beautiful that it would “…depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts.”

Here it was Christmas Eve and Della had only been able to save one dollar and eighty-seven cents a penny or two at a time “… by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher …” to buy a Christmas gift for Jim. What could she buy with such a little bit of money?

She was still fretting about the situation while doing up her hair and she remembered a sign in a shop window that read “Mme Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” She wondered if Madame Sofronie would buy her hair and rushed to the store to find out. The Madame thought Della’s hair was well worth $20.

Della went shopping immediately and found the perfect Christmas present for Jim — “… a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone …” to go with his gold watch.

The problem was that Jim had just sold his watch to buy a gift for Della — “… The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window.” And, of course, her hair was too short for the combs.

Mr. O. Henry closed his story with these wise words: “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. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.”

The second story was found in Anne Lamott’s book ‘bird by bird.’ This is verbatim from page 205:

“Here is the best true story on giving I know, and it was told by Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. An eight-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him if they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. They then asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.

The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girl’s IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, “How soon until I start to die?” ”

If these stories did not touch your heart you should see your cardiologist to ensure everything is still working properly.

I would like to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Ramadan, or Happy Kwanzaa according to your beliefs.


Dr. Herb Randall is an advocate for Senior Citizens. He is the Immediate Past President of the Nevada Silver Haired Legislative Forum and a Silver Senator with the Nevada Delegation of the National Silver Haired Congress. He can be contacted at herandall@cox.