by O. Henry - 1906
I first read this story in Grade 7 English class, the same year I read Ransom of Red Chief and The Monkey's Paw. Della and Jim are as much a part of the Christmas season to me as Bob Cratchit.
"The Gift of the Magi" is one of O. Henry's most famous stories. Included in The Four Million, his first collection of short stories, in 1906, it has been anthologized many times since then. The story contains many of the elements for which O. Henry is widely known, including poor, working-class characters, a humorous tone, realistic detail, and a surprise ending. A major reason given for its enduring appeal is its affirmation of unselfish love. Such love, the story and its title suggest, is like the gifts given by the wise men, called magi, who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn Jesus.