Voice 1: New York. December 24th. 1905. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all she had. It had taken her weeks to save even this small amount. Della counted the coins again. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day was Christmas.
Voice 2: Jim and Della got married in Spring, and this would be their first Christmas together as man and wife. Della wanted so much to buy her new husband a nice gift this Christmas. But one dollar, eighty-seven cents! That would not even buy a pair of leather laces for his boots.
Voice 1: They might be poor, but Mr and Mrs Young were very proud of two things they possessed. One was Jim’s gold pocket watch that had once belonged to his father. The other was Della’s long, beautiful blond hair.
Voice 2: Della stood in front of the mirror and unpinned her hair which during the day she always wore neatly fastened on top of her head. She stood quite still for a moment and a tear ran down her face. Della put on her old brown coat and walked quickly out of the door, down the stairs and onto the street.
Voice 1: She briskly crossed the road and stopped in front of a shop that had the words ‘Mrs Sofronie. Hairdresser and wig maker’ painted on the window. Della went inside. “Do you buy hair?”, she asked the woman behind the counter. “Yes”, replied Mrs Sofronie. “You want to sell yours? Take off your hat and let me look.” Down fell Della’s hair like a beautiful golden waterfall. “Twenty dollars,” said Mrs Sofronie, lifting the hair to feel its weight.
Voice 2: For the next two hours, Della went from shop to shop to find a gift for Jim. At last, she found it. It was a gold watch chain, very simply made. Della knew that Jim would love it. She paid twenty-one dollars for the chain. Della hurried home with the gift neatly wrapped and eighty-seven cents still left in her purse.
Voice 1: Jim arrived home at seven o’clock on the dot, as he always did. He looked very thin and he was not smiling. He needed a new coat and he had no gloves to cover his cold hands. He looked strangely at Della, but did not say a word. “Jim, dear, don’t look at me like that! I have had my hair cut off and sold it. I wanted to get some money so I could buy you a nice gift for Christmas. My hair will grow again. It grows quickly. It’s Christmas, Jim. I know you will love the gift I’ve got for you’.
Voice 2: “My dear Della. I too have got a gift for you. Open it now. It’s almost Christmas”. Della pulled the paper off the box Jim had put on the table. Her happy face quickly darkened. Jim had bought her the beautiful gold combs that she’d seen in a jeweller’s window a while ago. The combs were hers, but her hair was gone.
Voice 1: “Oh, Jim! Jim,” Della cried. “My hair grows fast. I will soon be able to wear these beautiful combs. But how did you afford to buy them? I remember they were so expensive.”
Voice 2: “I sold my gold watch. I wanted to buy you something special for this Christmas. Tell me, what did you buy for me? What gift was so special that you sacrificed your hair? Tell me, my dear, what have you bought me for Christmas?”