Day 9: It is an honor to host Chuck Sandy in my blog!
I have always enjoyed his stories and he always gives us something to think about.
Happy birthday dear Chuck! May the force be with you!
Stories from some In-Between Times
December is an in-between time -- a time when we finish one year and get ready for the next one, a time when we wait for Christmas and the joys and pleasures of this holiday. In many traditions, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are known as Advent and people mark the passing days in different ways. One way people do this is by sharing special, seasonal stories.
One of these stories is O. Henry’s The Gift of The Magi which is about a poor young couple who love each other very much. The woman in the story has beautiful long hair. Her husband has a gold watch which is the one single valuable thing he owns. Otherwise, they have almost nothing – only enough to live a very basic life together. Maybe you know couples like this.
As Christmas approaches, each of them thinks about how they could buy a gift for the other, and separately they come up with a very beautiful and surprising solution. If you’ve read the story, you’ll know what the solution is. If you haven’t read the story, read it now. It’s very short, and you can read it online here.
And now that you know the story, let me tell you another one.
Several years ago, I read this story to a group of university students in Japan. Once we had discussed it and worked through some activities, we decided to work in groups to come up with our own modern-day versions of the story. Each group had about 30 minutes to do this.
When everyone was finished, a leader from each group told their modern version of The Gift of the Magi to the class. All of the versions were very good but the one that everyone liked best was the one about two poor college students who were very much in love and facing some difficult decisions.
Because their families didn’t like each other, it was very hard for them to see each other. That’s one of the reasons they were so worried. The biggest reason for their worry was that the young woman in this group’s story was pregnant and the couple didn’t know what to do. Neither of them had much money and they couldn’t even afford to get an apartment together. It seemed like they might have to run away and hope for the best. Meanwhile, the present they gave each other was a peaceful evening on which they decided not to worry. Though this story was very different from the original, it was really good. Everyone in my class had tears in their eyes when they heard it. Then the bell rang and class was over.
A few days later, one of the young women from that class came to my office and told me she really liked the activities we’d done in class and was very moved by The Gift of The Magi. Then she paused and looked at me for some moments before telling me that she was pregnant and might have to drop out of school. I comforted her as best I could and told her not to worry. It was a few days before Christmas and I didn’t see her again until sometime in January the following year.
Already there’s a lot you might discuss and think about. Maybe you’ll do this in a class. Maybe you’ll do this on your own. In either case, please think about the students I just told you about. Let’s call the woman Junko and her boyfriend Hiroshi. What do you think they did and how is their story similar to and different from the couple in The Gift Of The Magi? How were these two couples living in an in-between time? How about you? How is this season and in-between time for you and your friends? And of course here you’ll want to come up with other questions to think about and discuss, too.
Now let me tell you the rest of my story: Junko stayed in college and though it was very hard for her, she finished the school year and went on to graduate. Junko and Hiroshi got married and often brought their baby to school with them.
At that time, this was a completely unusual thing to do and I really admired them for it. Now years later they have a very happy family. I saw them in the grocery store not long ago and after talking for a little while we wished each other a merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to all of you, too.