What are presents for? We give presents on special days like birthdays and name days, and festivals like Christmas. But why do we do it? Do we give presents because we want to show how rich we are? Or how generous we are? Della and Jim are young and happy, and very poor. The next day is Christmas, and Helia wants very much to give her Jim a present, a wonderful present,something really special. But she has only one dollar and eighty-seven cents . . .
The Christmas Presents
Retold by Diane Mowat One dollar and eight-seven cents. That was all. Every day, when she went to the shops, she spent very little money. She bought the cheapest meat, the cheapest vegetables. And when she was tired, she still walked round and round the shops to find thecheapest food. She saved every cent possible. Della counted the money again. There was no mistake. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And the next day was Christmas. She couldn't do anything about it. She could only sit down and cry. So she sat there, in the poor little room, and she cried. Della lived in this poor little room, in New York, with her husband, James Dillingham Young. Theyalso had a bedroom, and a kitchen and a bathroom - all poor little-rooms. James Dillingham Young was lucky, because he had a job, but it was not a good job. These rooms took most of his money. Della tried to find work, but times were bad, and there was no work for her. But when Mr James Dillingham Young came home to his rooms, Mrs James Dillingham Young called him 'Jim' and put her arms round him.And that was good. Della stopped crying and she washed her face. She stood by the window, and looked out at a grey cat on a grey wall in the grey road. Tomorrow was Christmas Day, and she had only one dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy Jim a Christmas present. Her Jim. She wanted very much to buy him something really fine, something to show how much she loved him. Suddenly, Della turned round andran over to look in the glass on the wall. Her eyes were bright.
Now, the James Dillingham Youngs had two very special things. One was Jim's gold watch. It once belonged to his father, and, before that, to his grandfather. The other special thing was Della's hair. Quickly, Della let down her beautiful, long hair. It fell down her back, and it was almost like a coat around her. Then she put herhair up again, quickly. For a second or two she stood still, and cried a little. Then she put on her old brown coat, and her old brown hat, turned, and left the room. She went downstairs and out into the road, and her eyes were bright. She walked along by the shops, and stopped when she came to a door with 'Madame Eloise - Hair' on it. Inside there was a fat woman. She did not look like an'Eloise'. 'Will you buy my hair?' Della asked. 'I buy hair,' Madame replied. 'Take your hat off, then, and show me your hair.' The beautiful brown hair fell down. 'Twenty dollars,' Madame said, and she touched the hair with her hand. 'Quick! Cut it off! Give me the money!' Della said. The next two hours went quickly. Della was happy because she was looking round the shops for Jim's present. At last shefound it. It was a gold chain for The Watch. Jim loved his watch, but it had no chain. When Della saw this gold chain, she knew immediately that it was right for Jim. She must have it. The shop took twenty-one dollars from her for it, and she hurried home with the eightyseven cents. When she arrived there, she looked at her very short hair in the glass. 'What can I do with it?' she thought. Forthe next half an hour she was very busy. Then she looked again in the glass. Her hair was now in very small curls all over her head. 'Oh, dear. I look like a schoolgirl!' she said to herself. 'What's Jim going to say when he sees me?' At seven o'clock the dinner was nearly ready and Della was waiting. 'Oh, I hope he thinks that I'm still beautiful!" she thought. The door opened and Jim came m and...