A Gift for Christmas Summary

A Gift for Christmas is a short story by O. Henry, published in 1905. It is a heartwarming tale about a young couple, Della and Jim, who are struggling financially but deeply in love. On Christmas Eve, Della is distraught because she does not have enough money to buy Jim a gift. Read More Inter 2nd Year English Summaries.

A Gift for Christmas Summary

About Author

O. Henry images

William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910), better known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American writer known primarily for his short stories, though he also wrote poetry and non-fiction. His works include “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Duplicity of Hargraves”, and “The Ransom of Red Chief”, as well as the novel Cabbages and Kings. Porter’s stories are known for their naturalist observations, witty narration and surprise endings.
Porter’s legacy includes the O. Henry Award, an annual prize awarded to outstanding short stories.

A Gift for Christmas” is a well-known short story by O. Henry. The original name of the author is William Sydney Porter. This story was first published in 1905.

The story narrates the life of a young married couple James who is known as Jim and Della Dillingham. The couple lives in a modest apartment. They have only two valuable possessions: Jim’s gold pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather and Della’s long hair that falls almost to her knees.

It is Christmas Eve. Della wants to buy Jim a Christmas present. But, she has only $1.87. When Della looks at herself in the mirror, she suddenly gets an idea. She sells her hair for $20.00. With that money, she buys a platinum chain for $21.00. She is very happy about the present. She thinks that the chain will add beauty to his watch.

When Jim comes home from work, he stares at Della. She prays to God that he should not find the absence of her hair at first sight. She admits that she sold her hair to buy his present. Before she can give it to him, however, Jim pulls a package out of his overcoat pocket and gives it to her. Inside, Della finds a pair of costly decorative hair combs that she admired cnce. Eut, they are now completely useless since she has cut off the hair. Hiding her tears, she holds out her gift for Jim- the watch chain. Jim tells Della that he has sold his watch to buy her present. He asks her to forget about the presents and enjoy Christmas eve saying “They’re too nice to use just at present”.

The story ends with a comparison of Jim and Della’s gifts to the gifts that the A Gift for Christmas the three wise men who visited Baby Jesus. The narrator concludes that Jim and Della are far wiser than the Magi because their gifts are gifts of love. Those who give out of love and self-sacrifice are truly the wisest since they know the value love. Their deed is nothing but, as the writer says, “generosity added to love”.

A Gift for Ch is mis is a classic example of irony in literature. The author ends the story with a twist which surprises the readers. Thus, O. Henry illustrates true love in the story A Gift for Christmas.


In the final paragraph, the narrator also states that Della and Jim were wise because they were happy with what they had. They did not need expensive gifts or material possessions to make them happy. They were content with each other’s love and the simple things in life.