Have you ever thought long and hard about what would be the prefect Christmas gift for someone you love? This story by William Porter, better known by the O. Henry, is one of the most famous Christmas stories of all time. It has featured in movies, TV specials, musicals, an opera and several cartoon series. It tells how a poor couple each sell their most valuable possession in order to buy a Christmas present that they feel is good enough for the one they love.
- Original Text with Audio (1583 words)
- Pre-Intermediate English Version
- General Understanding Quiz
- Literary Analysis
- VOA Learning English Version
English Learner Vocabulary Help
General Comments on the Story
To properly understand Della’s gift for Jim, it is important to know that the story was written at a time when few people wore watches on their wrist. Most men carried pocket watches like the one on the right. These were attached to their clothing or a belt loop by a chain or short leather strap to stop them from being dropped.
We are told in the story that Jim’s gift to Della was a “beautiful set of combs, side and back, with jewelled edges”. These are not the normal kind of combs we use every day to make our hair look smooth and neat, but special combs (often decorative) worn by women with long hair to keep a hair-style in place.
(n: pen-name pl pen-names) A name used by a writer instead of his or her real name.
(v: approve, approves, approved, approving) To believe that something or someone is good or acceptable. 2000 The opposite of approve is disapprove.
(n: approval pl approvals) The belief that something or someone is good or acceptable; a good opinion of someone or something 2000
(adj: dull, duller, dullest) 1. Not exciting or interesting; boring. It was a very dull book. 2. Not shiny, bright or clear. It was a dull day. 3. Having an edge or point that is not sharp; blunt. A dull knife. 4. Slow to learn or to understand. The clever children help the dull ones. 3000
(n: gift pl gifts) Something that is given willingly, such as a present. They gave me a surprise gift on my birthday. 2000
(n: horror pl horrors) 1. A very strong feeling of fear or dislike. 2. A disagreeable person or thing. Her little boy is an absolute horror. 3000
(adj:ˈhorrible) 1. Causing horror; frightening; dreadful. A horrible sight. 2. Very bad or unpleasant. What a horrible day! 2000
(v: hug, hugs, hugged, hugging) 1. To put your arms around someone or something, especially as a way of showing love or friendship. 2. To be or stay very close to something. 6000
(n: jewel pl jewels) A precious stone (such as a diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire) that has been cut and polished.
(n: jewels, plural) An ornament or pieces of jewelry containing a precious stone or stones. She loved dressing up in her jewels.
(adj: jeweled or jewelled) Covered in jewels. 3000
(n: madame pl mesdames) Used like 'Mrs' as a title for a married Frenchwoman. 6000
(adj: merry, merrier, merriest) Very happy and cheerful; feeling or showing joy and happiness. 3000
(adj: narrow, narrower, narrowest) Long and not wide; small from one side to the other side. The bridge is too narrow for large vehicles to cross. 2000
(adj: nervous) Having or showing feelings of being worried and afraid about what might happen.
(adv: nervously) In a nervous way. 3000
(n: overcoat pl overcoats) A long coat worn over other clothes to keep a person warm during very cold weather. 7000
(n: platinum, noncount) A heavy grey metal that is more valuable than gold. Used in making expensive jewellery. 9000
(adj: proud, prouder, proudest) 1. Feeling very pleased because of something you have done or own, someone you know, etc. She felt proud as she watched her daughter graduate. 2. Having a too high opinion of oneself; arrogant. She was too proud to talk to us. 2000
(n: pride, noncount) A feeling of pleasure and satisfaction at one's achievements, possessions, family etc. She watched with pride as her daughter graduated. 3000
(n: reflection pl reflections) 1. An image that is seen in a mirror or on a shiny surface. He saw the reflections of the clouds on the lake. 2. Something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else. The high crime rate is a reflection of the violence of our society. 2000
(n: shame, noncount) 1. A feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness because you have failed at something or done something wrong or foolish. 2. Something that causes such a feeling; a pity.
(adj: shameful) Something so bad that someone should feel shame because of it.
(adj: shameless) Having done something shameful without feeling shame. 2000
(n: spirit pl spirits) 1. The inner quality or nature of a person. She has a kind and loving spirit. (น้ำใจ) 2. The force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power. Often thought of as not part of the body and to remain alive (eg as a ghost or able to be born again) when the body dies. He may be dead, but his spirit still lives on. 2. A similar force which some cultures believe to exist in all non-human entities (animals, plants, rivers, mountains, etc.). (จิตใจ) 2000
(n: waterfall pl waterfalls) An area in a stream or river where running water falls down from a high place; a cascade. (น้ำตก) 7000
(n: whisper pl whispers) A very quiet sound, especially something said. (การกระซิบ; การส่งเสียงเบา ๆ)
(v: whisper, whispers, whispered, whispering) To speak or say something very softly. (กระซิบ) 5000
(adj: wise, wiser, wisest) Having gained a lot of knowledge from books or experience or both and able to use it well. (ฉลาด)
(n: wisdom; noncount) 1. The knowledge gained from books or experience. 2. The quality or state of being wise. (ปัญญา; สติปัญญา) 2000