Wednesday 16 December 2020

A Gift for Christmas


A Gift for Christmas


One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time. Three times Della counted it. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing that Della could do except to throw herself on the dirty little couch and cry. While Della is crying let us take a look at her home which is a furnished flat at $8 a week. You see signs of poverty wherever you turn your eyes. What else can you expect when Della’s husband, Mr. James Dillingham Young, earns just $20 a week? Della finished crying. She went up to the looking-glass and began to powder her cheeks. Then she stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking on a grey fence in a grey backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. 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. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Oh, the many happy hours she had spent planning for something nice for him! Something fine and rare, worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim. Suddenly Della turned away from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour all of a sudden. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took great pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair.

Della let fall her beautiful hair and it looked like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knees. Quickly and nervously she combed it and did it up again. For a minute she faltered. Tears appeared in her eyes.

That was only for a moment. She put on her old brown jacket, she put on her old brown hat. With her eyes shining brightly she fluttered out of the door and down the stairs to the street. She stopped at a shop with the sign ‘M'me Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.’ The shop was located on the second floor. Della ran up the stairs. ‘Will you buy my hair?’ asked Della. ‘I buy hair,’ said Madame. ‘Take your hat off and let me have a look at it.’ Down came the brown cascade. ‘Twenty dollars,’ said Madame, lifting the beautiful hair with her experienced hand. ‘Give it to me quickly,’ said Della. Della spent the next two hours in the stores eagerly looking for Jim’s present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores. It was a platinum watch-chain, simple but well made. It was worthy of the watch. As soon as she saw it she decided that it was the right present for Jim. She paid twenty-one dollars for it and hurried home with the 87 cents that remained. When Della reached home, pleased with the present, she grew nervous as she thought calmly about what she had done. She looked at the reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. She brought out her curling irons and began to curl her hair carefully. The tiny curls made her look like a schoolboy. ‘If Jim doesn’t kill me,’ she said to herself, ‘before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a boy. But what could I do-Oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?’ At seven o’clock the coffee was made and everything arranged to get dinner ready. Jim was never late. Della sat on the corner of the table near the door with the watch chain in her hand. Then she heard his step on the stairs. She turned white for just a moment. She prayed, ‘Please God, make him think I am still pretty.’ The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two and he was burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim’s eyes were fixed on Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise. He simply stared at her with a strange expression on his face. Della got off the table and moved towards him. ‘Jim, darling,’ she cried, ‘don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I had to buy a Christmas present for you. I just had to do it. My hair grows so fast-you don’t mind, do you? Say “Merry Christmas! Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice – what a beautiful present I’ve got for you.’ ‘You’ve cut off your hair?’ asked Jim, speaking with difficulty. ‘Cut it off and sold it,’ said Della. ‘Don’t you like me just as well, without my hair?’ Jim looked about the room curiously. ‘You say, your hair is gone?’ he said with an air almost of disbelief. ‘You needn’t look for it,’ said Della. ‘It’s sold, I tell you - sold and gone. It’s Christmas Eve, Jim. Be good to me, because I did it all for you. ’Jim seemed to wake up at last, and to understand. He kissed Della. He suddenly remembered that he had bought something for Della too. He drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. ‘Don’t make any mistake, Dell,’ he said, ‘about me. Whatever happens I shall always love you just the same. Now open the package and you will understand why I behaved as I did.’ Della’s white fingers quickly opened the package. And then at first a scream of joy followed by a quick feminine change to tears. For there lay The Combs – the set of combs, side and back, that Della had seen in a Broadway window and liked so much. They were beautiful combs, so expensive and they were hers now. But alas, the hair in which she was to wear them was sold and gone! She took them up lovingly, smiled through her tears and said, ‘My hair grows so fast, Jim!’ And then Della jumped up like a little cat and cried, ‘Oh, oh!’ Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly on her open palm. ‘Isn’t it lovely, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at your watch a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.’ Instead of obeying, Jim sat down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

‘Dell,’ said he, ‘let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep them awhile. They are too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now please get the dinner ready.’




expenses (noun) :  operating cost The salary he gets barely covers his expenses.


rare (adj) : uncommon It is rare to find sincerity these days.


possession (noun) :  owning something The gang was caught in possession of cocaine.


cascade (v, noun) :  flowing like a small waterfall Water cascaded down the stairs. The cascade made a lovely scene.


falter (verb) :    to become weak His courage never faltered.


flutter (verb) :    to move quickly The flag fluttered in the breeze.


critically (adv) :  with disapproval She spoke critically of her sister.


feminine (adj) :  qualities connected with women This dress gives you a typical feminine look.


scream (verb) :  loud cry The boys were screaming with excitement.





A. Comprehension Questions

(i) Answer the following questions in your own words:


1. Why was Della crying?

Ans. Della was crying because she didn’t have enough money to buy a Christmas present for her husband.


2. Describe the poverty of Della's house.

Ans. Della was living in a poor condition. Her household expenses were more than she had calculated. She had only a dirty and little couch. Her jacket and hat were old. Thus, there were signs of poverty everywhere in her household.


1.     What type of present had Della planned for Jim?

Ans. Della had planned to buy a nice Christmas present for Jim. She wanted this present to be fine and rare, which Jim could feel proud of.


2.     What were the two prized possessions of Jim?

Ans. There were two prized possessions of Jim and Della. First was gold watch of Jim that had belong to his father and grandfather. The second thing was beautiful and long hair of Della that reached below her knees.


3.     Describe the present Della bought for Jim.

Ans. Della bought a platinum watch-chain for Jim. It was simple but well-made. It was worthy of Jim’s watch. It was a suitable present for Jim.


4.     How did Della manage to buy the gift?

Ans. Della had long beautiful hair. She sold her hair for twenty dollars and thus got the money for buying the present.


5.     What did Della think when she looked at herself in the mirror?

Ans. When Della looked at herself in the mirror, she became very nervous. She now looked like a school boy. She thought that Jim would not love as before.


8. What was Jim’s reaction on seeing Della's hair gone?

Ans. On seeing Della’s hair gone, there was a strange expression in the eyes of Jim. It was not an expression of anger or surprise. He simply gazed at her face.       


9. What explanation did Della give to Jim for getting her hair cut?                                                                           Ans. In her explanation, Della told Jim that she had to sell her hair to buy a Christmas gift for Jim. She further requested him not to mind because her hair would grow soon.                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                     10. What was in the package that Jim had brought for Della?                                                                              Ans. There was a set of combs in the package that Jim had bought for Della. Della had seen it in a shop window and liked it very much.

                                                                                                                                                               11. How had Jim managed to bring the present for Della?                                                                                            Ans. Jim sold his beautiful gold watch and managed to bring the present for Della.


(ii) Answer the following questions in about 50 words each:

1. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. Why?                                                                                         Ans. Jim earned only twenty dollars a week. Out of it, eight dollars were spent for the house rent. Only twelve dollars were left for the family to live on. Della wanted to buy a nice Christmas gift for her husband. But after saving for months, she could save only $1.87. So expenses had been greater than she had calculated

                                                                                                                                                                2. Describe the incident of Della’s selling her hair in your own words.                                                                                                                               Ans. Della wanted to buy a nice Christmas present for her husband. But she had only 1.87 dollar which was not sufficient for this purpose. She had long beautiful hair. She went to the shop of a hair dealer and sold her hair for twenty dollars. Thus she bought the Christmas present for her husband.

                                                                                                                                                        3. Why was Della pleased with her selection of the present for Jim?                                                                                                                                    Ans. Jim had a gold watch of which he was very proud. Della wanted to buy something which was made for Jim and no one else. At last, she found a platinum chain. It was simple and well-made. It was the right present for him. She was very pleased with the selection of his present, and was certain that Jim too would be very pleased to have it.


4.. Why does the storywriter call Jim ‘a poor fellow’?

Ans. Della’s husband, Jim, was earning only twenty dollars a week. He had no overcoat and gloves. Della had a brown jacket and a brown hat. Both these articles were old. Jim and Della had rented a small flat. They paid eight dollars a week as its rent. Their couch was small and dirty. They lived from hand to mouth. That is why the story writer calls Jim “a poor fellow”.


1.     What do you think about the expression in Jim’s eyes? Was it shock, surprise or anger? Why?

Ans. When Jim saw a different Della Without her long hair he stared at her with a strange expression. It was not a shock, surprise or anger but it was helplessness. His wife had sold her beautiful hair to buy a gift for him. His gift of costly pair of combs for Della was now useless. In fact, it was the feeling that suddenly turned him blank. 


2.     Both of them gave each other the gift of rare love. How? Explain.

Ans. Della had long beautiful hair. It was her priceless possession. She sold it to buy a chain for her husband’s gold watch.

Jim had a gold watch. It was given to him by his father. It was his precious possession. He sold it to buy a set of combs as a Christmas gift for Della. Thus, both of them sacrificed their dearest possessions and gave each other the gifts of rare love.


(i)                Write true or false against the following statements:


1.     Jim loved Della more than she loved him.                                                    False


2.     Della could easily buy a present for Jim without selling her hair.                    False


3.     Della was proud of being Jim’s wife.                                                                 True


4.     Both the gifts proved their true love for each other.                                              True


5. Jim and Della could do without gifts.                                                            False


B. Vocabulary Exercises

(i) Look at the sentences:

She went up to the looking glass. She brought out her curling irons. The words looking and curling are the verbs ending ining and have the force of noun as well as verb. Such words are called ‘gerunds’.


(ii) Supply suitable gerunds in the blanks:


1. I am not interested in becoming a celebrity.                                (become)


2. I am used to sleeping by the phone.                                              (sleep)


3. I feel like climbing the mountains.                                                (climb)


4. Your plants need purning                                                                       (prune)


5. He didn’t want to risk annoying the boss.                                             (annoy)


6. I am not interested in living in luxury.                                                   (live)


7. Will it help if we try putting the cake back in the oven?              (put)


8. I feel like swimming across the river.                                                     (swim)


9. I am not used to working irregular hours.                                            (work)


10. I am used to doing overtime.                                                               (do)



ii (a) Combine the nouns with gerunds in the table to form meaningful compound nouns.

fruit lorry bird farming picking coal weight fish lifting mining watching driving


Ans. Fruit- picking                           bird-watching                                 weight- lifting


        Lorry- driving                           coal- mining                                    fish- farming



 (b) Now combine the gerunds with the nouns to form compound nouns:

waiting             diving                   driving              committee           pool              rink           dining              swimming             licence               board                  hall                housing              skating            room


Ans. waiting-room                     diving-board                                        driving- licence                                                   dining- hall                        swimming- pool                             housing- committee 

          Skating- rink                      





(iii) Fill in the blanks with the suitable word:


1. Happiness is to sorrow as strength is to weakness (muscle/lion/weakness/strong)


2. Touch is to strike as whisper is to shout (shout/kill/quiet/anger)


3. Snow is to white as honey is tosweet (light/bee/sweet/tree)


4. Deep is to shallow as bold is to timid (dull/strong/timid/loud)


5. Bear is to cub as horse is to foal (lamb/fawn/foal/kid)


6. Herd is to deer as bunch is to keys (people/chickens/cattle/keys)


7. Horse is to neigh as lamb is to bleat (bleat/screech/roar/yell)


8. Haste is to delay as honour is to shame (king/judge/shame/prize)


9. Puppy is to dog as fawn is to bear (bear/wolf/duck/deer)


10. Victory is to defeat as vague is to definite (lose/definite/virtue/fame)



C. Grammar Exercises

(i) (c) Look at the sentences:

She put on her old brown hat. Della got off the table and moved towards him. When a preposition or an adverb is placed after a verb, the phrase so formed gives a variety of meanings.


Now fill in the blanks with the phrases given below:

put off                    look ahead


put out                    look after


put on                     look out


put forward             look up



1. Will you look after my dog when I am away.


2. You should look ahead and make plans for your future.


3. While swimming in the sea look out for sharks.


4. He was depressed after his accident, but with time, life began to look up


5. Put on the light, I want to read.


6. Put out the light, I want to sleep.


7. I shall put off my visit to Delhi till the weather is fine.


8. The new officers put forward many new suggestions.




(ii) Correct the following sentences: (errors in the use of prepositions)



1. To save the child he jumped in the well.

Ans. To save the child he jumped into the well.


2. You have to answer on your misbehaviour.

Ans. You have to answer for your misbehaviour.


3. He did not agree with my proposal.

Ans. He did not agree with to my proposal.


4. We should abide with the decision of the management.

Ans. We should abide by the decision of the management.


5. He has been accused for theft.

Ans. He has been accused of theft.


6. You must apologize from the boss on your misbehaviour.

Ans. You must apologize to the boss for your misbehaviour.


7. The student assured the teacher with his honesty.

Ans. The student assured the teacher of his honesty.


8. Della was absorbed with her studies.

Ans. Della was absorbed in her studies.


9. The nurse is attending near your father.

Ans. The nurse is attending on your father.


10. He is addicted from drugs.

Ans. He is addicted to drugs.



(iii) Rewrite the following in the Indirect Form of Narration:


1.     “You have cut off your hair?” asked Jim, speaking with difficulty. “Cut it off and sold it,”

2.     said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, without my hair?”

3.     “You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “Be good to me, because I did it all for you.”

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


Ans. 1.Peaking with difficulty, Jim asked Della if she had cut off her hair. Della replied that she had cut it off and sold it. She asked Jim if he didn’t like her just as well, without her hair.


2. Della said that he needed not look for it. She requested him to be good to her because she had done it all for him.


3.Della asked Jim if it was not lovely. She told him that she had hunted all over the town to find it. She added that he would have to look at his watch a hundred times a day then. She asked him to give her watch as she wanted to see how on looked on it. 



D. Pronunciation Practice

Check up the pronunciation of the following words in the dictionary and say them aloud.

Wool                              onion                                suite

lamb                               oven                                 adjective

cough                             potato                               interrogative

ewe                                quay                                  bury

hero                               suggestion                         exhibition

Don’t you think you should learn some phonetic symbols to be able to read the correct pronunciation of words from the dictionary?


E. Creative Writing and Extended Reading

1. Continue an imaginary dialogue (started below) between Jim and Della while sitting over the dinner table on the Christmas Eve.

Jim: Della, how could you think of this gift?

Della: ………………………………………..

Jim: But, why did you not tell me anything about it?

Della: ………………………………………..

Jim: Couldn’t we do without gifts this Christmas?

Della: ……………………………………….. . But you too did not disclose your plans. Why?

Jim: ………………………………………..

Della: Should we not put them away for the next Christmas?

Jim: ………………………………………..

2. Write a short paragraph on:

The Practice of Exchanging Gifts on special occasions.

3. Discuss with your friends, the wisdom (or otherwise) of Jim and Della in matter of the practice of exchanging gifts on the Christmas eve.