Happy December 26! The stockings are unstuffed, the wrapping paper’s tossed, and visions of sugarplums have been overtaken by dreams of dancing champagne glasses and broken resolutions.
But the gifts remain. In honor of the tie you’re returning and the books that you aren’t, here are some of the most memorable holiday gifts in fiction:
Watch chain and combs. In The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry’s most ironic of tales, a woman sells her hair to buy her husband a watch chain, and he sells his watch to buy her a set of combs. I guess the message is that love is sacrifice, but the other message is to consult your beloved on the big purchases.
Pile of weapons. Ho ho ho, children! Here comes Santa Claus, bearing gifts of
Barbies and Xboxes heavy-duty weaponry! In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Pevensies’ run-in with a noble Father Christmas wins them a veritable cache of evil-fighting tools: sword and shield for Peter; bow, arrows, and hunting horn for Susan; and a dagger and healing cordial for Lucy (no presents for errant Edmund). His arrival is also a sign that Narnia’s long winter is coming to an end.
Nutcracker. Much like a baby who prefers the box to the gift that came in it, 7-year-old Marie, star of E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, quickly tires of the magical toys made for her by an inventor uncle, ditching them in favor of the ignored family Nutcracker. Her brother breaks its jaw, Marie binds it up, and the Nutcracker takes her on a nocturnal adventure in thanks. It’s a darker story than the ballet it inspired, and ends with Marie breaking a spell and winning a prince.
Turkey. After being given the runaround by a handful of ghosts, world’s worst boss Ebenezer Scrooge finally sees the error of his selfish, selfish ways. In Dickens’ classic tale, he’s inspired to gift his long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit with a “prize Turkey,” classing up his family’s meager Christmas meal and inspiring one of the most famous lines in lit: “God bless us, every one!”