State Department Strips Soul Out of ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry

It used to be—or maybe it used to be in New England—that Thanksgiving was allowed to be Thanksgiving and then Christmas would slowly roll in. Some people put their decorations up the week after Thanksgiving, some waited all the way to Christmas Eve to, say, decorate their tree that had been up for a week. One thing was certain, nobody rushed to have Christmas packed away by January 2. About the earliest one might expect to take away all the lights and pretty things that make the darkest time of the year more joyous, was sometime after January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. The accuracy of the three Wise Men showing up at the manager when Jesus was still a babe or two to three years later when Mary and Joseph would have been back home, or whatever, made no never-mind. No decorations came down until after the Wise Men showed up at the manager. And if one considers, as most Catholics do, the manger as action-set, then the baby Jesus wasn’t put in the manager until after midnight mass on Christmas Eve, unwrapped from his tissue paper by over-tired slap-happy children. The Wise Men were added at some point during the Epiphany, and sometime, a week at least, one might—might—start thinking of stowing the manager for another year. Mind you, the wreath would never come down until Spring arrived, or its evergreen boughs turned orange, whichever came first. Mixed into this would be the literary gift from O. Henry of “The Gift of the Magi.”

Like many of O. Henry’s short stories, there’s a surprise ending, which the masses loved and the critics scoffed. Spoiler alert: A poor couple living in a New York tenement work to save enough to buy each other a treasure for Christmas. Della cuts corners on groceries and buys on credit, but still can’t afford the gift she wants to buy for her beloved husband, Jim. So, in a moment of utter self-sacrifice, she goes to a wigmaker and sells her gorgeous knee-length hair—her crowning glory, as it were. Then she searches the city to find just the right gold watchchain for Jim’s pocket watch, his familial history handed down to him through the generations. Jim returns home to be utterly stunned by the visage of his wife. He cannot wrap his head around what he is seeing. Della thinks he doesn’t love her anymore, but nothing could be farther from the truth. He has pawned his heirloom gold watch to buy a set of decorative hair combs for the beautiful hair of his lovely bride. Ah, and as the narrator reflects on this poor, seemingly foolish couple, we come to understand that they possess wisdom as deep as the Wise Men. They understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Edward Burne-Jones tapestry of the three wise men bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus.
The Three Wise Men established the tradition of gift-giving, as depicted in this Edward Burne-Jones tapestry. O. Henry left us with a beautiful example of gift-giving in his short story, “The Gift of the Magi.”


Henry tells this story in a mere five paperback pages. It’s an easy read. Then, of course, there are multiple cinematic spawn, in which Hollywood gets its grubby paws on the tale, but by whatever form, it’s worth a revisit by both adults and older children. O. Henry tells a very specific story about a very specific couple during a very specific time living in a very specific place—a story that is in the process of being erased by our current Department of State through its American English program. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read the original, which can also be found online for free, or within collections, such as “41 Stories by O. Henry” by Signet Classic, 1984. Then read the State Department’s version and together with the youngsters in your family, find all the ways the two versions differ and discuss why those changes might have been made. These changes are not just a disregard for an artist’s work, no matter whether the copyright has expired or not, but an assault on literature and our Western culture in general. Every librarian, every English major, every aficionado of storytelling then needs to pen (or type) an angry missive to whoever it is in the State Department who feels its OK to destroy an author’s work, to strip a story of its time, its detail, its place.

Here are some topics to explore, some questions to ask yourself and your kids or grandkids. Set yourself up with paper and pen and start listing all the ways this literary classic has been ravaged. Style, place, the way Della and Jim speak, details about architecture, references to historical figures, expression of emotions, the removal of all references to the details on how something is done, such as curling hair or keeping a pan warm before cooking. Why? Ask yourself why these changes would be made. Vocabulary dumbed down, sentences shortened and simplified, void of cultural specificity or any sense of prior history. Amazingly, the references to prayer and the Magi are left in. You are allowed your God, you see, because in a meta-world there will only be virtual reality and drugs for anyone who survives, as Yuval Harari of the World Economic Forum so cheerfully informs us. I guess you’re allowed to have the illusion that you can have private thoughts and prayers. They are not private; they are being monitored, just like everything else you do, but that’s an article for another day.

Let’s start with the first paragraph as an example.

Here’s how O. Henry’s original reads:

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.

Here’s how Anthony J. Blinkin, Secretary of State under the Biden Administration has deemed it should read:

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three times. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

First sentence: Same.

Second sentence: Same.

Third sentence: Hold up. “And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time…” becomes “She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another…”

Why? Well, of course, the globalists are in the process of dismantling cash. No more private purchases for you. Your every transaction must be monitored. Stop taking the convenience option. Start thinking of convenience as costing another chip of your very dear privacy, freedom, and soul. Join Cash Fridays by using cash all day, thanking establishments that accept it and refusing to comply with establishments that force you to use a QR code, which is how they plan on entrapping us. Ask for a paper menu, pay with cash. Push back! Resist!

Continuing, we read that Della amassed this $1.87 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.” Teach your children how to look up words. Sure, you can do it online, but it’s better that they also know the alphabet and how to use a paper-bound dictionary. What does “imputation” mean? Something “ascribed” or “attributed.” What does “parsimony” mean? “Stinginess” So, what is O. Henry implying here? That “one’s cheeks burned”—that one was embarrassed—that the grocer, vegetable man, and butcher “attributed” her “close dealings” with “stinginess.” When what is the real reason? That her heart was overflowing with love for her husband, and she wanted to buy him a nice gift.

This will not do in an artificial world of algorithms and virtual reality. According to Blinkin, Della simply saved each cent “in her careful buying of meat and other food.” Well, that sure robs the writing of its richness, but in addition to eliminating coinage and cash, what else does it do? Why yes! It eliminates all reference to people with specialty jobs, professions, expertise, and skills. In the State Department’s globalist, colorless, soulless world there are no grocers or vegetable men or butchers. You will eat the bugs they tell you can eat, you will know nothing of the earth and vegetables you can grow yourself or purchase from local farmers, and you certainly will never know meat or the ability and knowledge of butchering an animal to get the best cuts of meat for whatever recipe you are preparing.

Do you see how dangerous this is? If this of any interest to you or someone you know, my better half did a video on this very topic and continues the discussion I’ve started here by going through each paragraph line by line while interweaving more details on O. Henry’s life. To celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, why not watch “The State Department Destroys ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry” with your family (see below). If gift-giving was brought into our Western consciousness by the Wise Men—who took special care to bring the exact right gifts to the Baby Jesus—and Della and Jim sacrificed their most precious possessions to give a perfect gift to each other—then the time we spend conveying the beauty of our Western civilization and culture to our descendants will be our most precious gift.

Once you do the exercise and/or watch the video, then please take a moment to write the State Department and register your displeasure at their total corruption of the work of a one man’s art. They cannot run that sterile, soulless prose under the name of O. Henry, period. Here’s the link to the contact form:

Here’s hoping your Christmas decorations are still up!

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2 thoughts on “State Department Strips Soul Out of ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry”

  1. I can only think of Oscar Wilde’s aphorism regarding the Cynic as one who “…know the PRICE of EVERYTHING and the VALUE of NOTHING.” This is also acknowledged by Our Lord when he admonishes his listeners, in Matthew 7:6. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not cast your pearls before swine.”

    What used to be called ‘Political Correctness’ but is now recognized as ‘Woke’ is the cancer that is eating away the soul of this nation. That movement, not the mythical and grossly exaggerated ‘White Supremacy’ is the greatest threat to our republic. That it is so deeply embedded in the ‘Permanent’, UNelected branch(es) of the national government is the greatest threat to our Republic. At some moment, the SCOTUS is going to be compelled to recognize this and we will have to set about dismantling the leviathan or be consumed by it.

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