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Creating Successful Leaders

Many of you are probably familiar with “The Gift of the Magi,” a classic Christmas story which beautifully illustrates the true meaning behind holiday gift-giving.

In the story, Jim and Della Dillingham Young, a young couple hard-pressed for cash struggle to find one another the perfect Christmas gift. With only $1.87 in hand, Della embarks on a mission into town to come up with the means to buy a chain for her husband’s prized watch, which is a family heirloom. In order to do this, she must sacrifice her most valued possession: her long, beautiful hair. So, she cuts it off, sells it, and uses the money to buy Jim a platinum fob chain. Meanwhile Jim, also short on money, decides to sell this very watch so that he can buy Della an expensive set of hair clips. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the irony of the situation!

What a surprise it must have been for poor Jim and Della to learn that they gave up what they valued most to provide gifts that could no longer be used! Yet after their initial shock, the two see the love behind their sacrifices, realizing that this is their most valuable possession.

I feel this story hits closer to home these days. Frugality has become a widely-shared value as a result of the economic recession. We can relate to Jim and Della’s desire to give nice gifts on a shoestring budget. Maybe you’ve similarly gone out of your way, making a huge sacrifice, to give a gift to a loved one.

On a purely material level, Jim and Della’s sacrifices proved to be worthless. They could have chosen to see their situation as a double-loss, as tragic, as a foolish mistake. Yet they did not. They saw past the superficiality of the gifts themselves in stark contrast to the realness of their love. It showed them that they didn’t need prized possessions to experience joy.  And I’m sure that if Jim and Della were real people, they’d remember that Christmas as one of their most precious times together.

You may have less “stuff” than you once did. Perhaps your bank account has dwindled. It might be tough, or just not possible, to get that expensive, “perfect” gift this year. But this season, I think we should reflect on this: are we rich in love? In family? In passions and pursuits? This is what matters, as “The Gift of the Magi” so beautifully portrays.

Have a blessed, loved-filled Holiday!


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