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Spoofs & Satire

The Gift of the Magi

It’s Christmas morning, and a couple’s yuletide glee is under siege by the secular progressives. A provocative television personality and 19th century author spins their tale.

One dollar and 87 cents. That was all. And 60 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 Young counted it. One dollar and 87 cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

Not that you’d know it. Thanks to the War on Christmas that the SPs are waging—secular progressives, I call ‘em SPs—you’re lucky to see any lights, any trees, any indication that Christmas is a longstanding tradition in this country. You’d never even know it. At the newspaper stand, around the corner from Della’s flat? The seller was told that if he said the words “Merry Christmas” to his customers, he would be immediately fired. Immediately fired. I mean, this is, really, the worse kind of fascism. And I hammered ‘em for it. So, of course, the media attacked me for having the guts to point it out, for siding with ordinary Americans. And that’s fine, I can take it. But I’m not going to step aside and let the SPs replace the Christmas carolers on the corner with people, you know, chanting from the Koran. I’m not going to stand for it.

Della, at least, understood the importance of the season. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy a present for her husband Jim. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated.

By “expenses,” I’m sure she meant income redistribution. This is one of the things I talk about in my other book, Culture Warrior, available now in hardcover and large-print editions. You got these nutcases on the far, far left, liberal extremists, who want to take money away from working people like Della and Jim and just give it to those who, for whatever reason, have less. Maybe they don’t work as much, or whatever the reason; who knows? And they do this—the secular progressives do this—through income taxes. Which, it’s important to remember, the founding fathers were against. I understand that socialism has a lot of appeal. But the founding fathers, unlike these far-left loons, recognized that income redistribution is bad for the country. Culture Warrior is also available on audio CD.

She could have purchased something from Paris, but she probably chose to forego such items in accordance with the boycott I organized. Now, there were two possessions of the James Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch, which had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. She fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street. Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting.

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della. And soon her hair was short and frightfully ugly, like Terry Gross’s.

The next two hours tripped by on rosy wings, as she ransacked the stores for Jim’s present. No doubt she could have purchased something from Paris almost immediately, but she probably chose to forego such items in accordance with the boycott I organized. By the way, France has lost more than 138 million billion dollars because of my efforts, true fact. Chirac called me up just yesterday, begging me to drop the boycott. I was embarrassed for him.

Eventually Della found it. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. It was a platinum fob chain, simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation, not unlike myself. It was worthy of the Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s.

She returned home, and awaited the return of her husband. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight. The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only 22—and to be burdened with a family! And, worse, to constantly have his marriage under siege by the secular progressives. They want marriage abolished, you know. They say it’s not diverse enough. The ACLU would be happier if Jim was married to another man, or involved in a poly-amorphous marriage, whatever they call it, where he was married to 18 people, or a duck. I mean, it sounds like I’m joking, but this is what the ACLU stands for. They are a terrorist organization, worse than al Qaeda. I need armed bodyguards because of what they’ve done to this nation.

Jim had no such protection as he stopped inside the door. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

I have grave concerns about Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco values. I coined that term, by the way. “San Francisco values.” “You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“It’s sold and gone. It went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden, serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you.”

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and handed it to Della. White fingers nimbly tore at the string and paper. An ecstatic scream of joy; there lay the Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long through a Broadway window. Now, they were hers, but, alas! The tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. A quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. These kinds of mood swings are not uncommon for women, which is why I have grave concerns about Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco values. I coined that term, by the way. “San Francisco values.” That was me.

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. Della held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

“Dell,” said he, “I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs.”

“Oh, Jim,” sobbed Della, “All of our efforts have been for naught. What a miserable Christmas.”

Jim smiled, and folded his wife into his arms. “Now, Dell,” he said gently. “There’s no need for tears. After all, Christmas is unimportant.”

Oh, come on. Of course Christmas is important. It’s the biggest economic and cultural event in our society.

“Really,” said Jim. “It’s just another day—”

No, no. No. Look, when you say dopey stuff like that, I’m going to call you on it. December sales—Christmas sales—account for 17 percent of the U.S. economy. Calling Christmas “just another day”—that’s ridiculous, OK?

“If I could just finish,” Jim said. “We are just two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of our house. We don’t need Christmas to know—”

No, now—shut up. It’s like you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid of the secular progressive ACLU America-haters, and I’m not going to have you spouting this crap in my story.

“In the end,” Jim continued, “perhaps we are as wise—”

Stop. Shut up. That’s enough.

“As wise as the magi—”



O. William Sydney James “Bill” Porter Reilly, Jr., first began writing as a journalist in the 1880s, and is now an award-winning commentator, television personality, syndicated columnist, and best-selling author, whose use of confrontational and abrupt conclusions to his stories popularized the term “O. Reilly ending.” When not wearing windbreakers in front of American flags or serving time in jail for embezzlement, O. Reilly enjoys falafel and dying of cirrhosis. More by O. Reilly