Playscript of the Gift of the Magi


Jim: Oh, no problem, my dear. I’ll set it up right now (Smile). (Sets the tree up, steps away from it) Jim: You see, you have a wonderful husband who can put anything to rights. (The tree falls over again. Della laughs) Jim: You’re laughing at me. Della: At both of us. Jim: And why is that? Della: Because we work so hard for our happiness. And sometimes even against the laws of gravity. Jim: But we are happy, laws or no laws. (Both of them smile. Suddenly, Jim kisses on Della’s hair) Jim: Della, you look so lovely! I love your hair. It was the first thing I noticed about you when I met you.
I loved it then, and now it’s even longer and more beautiful than it was. Della: But my hair is less valuable than your grandfather’s watch! The dearest thing you have. Jim: However I have no chance to wear it. Della: Oh, Jim, your watch should have a beautiful long chain and fob, so you wouldn’t have to be embarrassed about showing it off Jim: But you are more valuable to me…than any thing…that I…own. (Della looks at the watch. It’s 7g30 o’clock) Della: Oh, it’s too late. You have to go to work right now. Jim: Oh, I forget. See you later. (kissing on Della’s cheek) Della: (coming to the house and looking out the window)
Scene 2: Jim: (on the way to work and seeing the Christmas atmosphere on the street) Della: Tomorrow will be Christmas! I will buy a special gift for my husband and make Jim surprise at it. (She begins to count the money) Della: Five cents, nine cents, fourteen, twenty-four, twenty-seven…one dollar seventy, seventy-five, six, seven, eight, nine, dollar eighty, eighty-five, six seven. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. Surely that can’t be all. But I have counted it three times, it doesn’t change a thing. It’s still one dollar and eighty-seven cents.
I’ve been saving all my pennies, nickels and dimes for months so that I could buy Jim something really special this Christmas. I saved these coins by bargaining with the grocer, the vegetable man, the butcher, the baker or even the candlestick maker. Della: One dollar and eighty-seven cents? That’s it? I knew that I hadn’t saved nearly as much as I wanted to, but…a dollar eighty-seven? I couldn’t possibly buy Jim anything with that! (Della sits at the table recounting the money yet again. Jim, elsewhere on the stage counts from his pocket into his hand) Jim: One dollar. A dollar ten, twenty, thirty, thirty-five,… (Look in another pocket)
Jim: Thirty-six, seven, eight. Wait, wait!!! (Tries a third pocket) Jim: A nickel and a penny. One dollar and forty-six cents. Della: one dollar, eighty-seven cents (Della look so sad and cry) Jim: Poor Della. She deserves a nice Christmas gift! However, what of her Christmas with one dollar and forty-six cents? What have I done? What a miserable, thoughtless, self-serving, heartless creature I am. What on earth can be done? Jim: I will miss it so much, but…but it will all be worth it to give Della the kind of Christmas…that she really deserves. And after all, it was just a pocket watch… a valuable, family heirloom pocket watch.
Well, it doesn’t matter! No pocket watch could ever be more important to me than my Della. Della (look at the mirror and comb her hair): Oh, why don’t I exchange my hair for a meaningful gift for my husband? Oh, no…I can’t I can’t… It’s so terrible if I cut my hair! I can’t imagine anyone cutting off their hair and selling it. No, no; that would be a silly thing to do…I could never sell my hair. However, I love Jim more than myself. It’s time to do something for him. (Della runs out of the house) Scene 3: Hairdresser: May I help you? You want to cut your hair, don’t you? Please come in Della: Please excuse me.
I…I would like to sell my hair to you. I fear my nerves have the gotten the best of me. Hairdresser: It’s your hair not your nerves I’m interested in. Step over here and sit down. (Della does) Well, hair worth seeing for once. Good color. Good texture. Sit down, I’ll chop it off. Della: Well, you see… Hairdresser: I do see. Della: How much money could you give me for my hair? Hairdresser: Twelve dollars. Are you Ok? Della: twenty-five Hairdresser: fifteen Della: twenty-one Hairdresser: eighteen Della: done Hairdresser: Fool, I would have paid twenty! (She picks up her scissors) Hairdresser: Step into the other room.
You will regret this all your life. (Della runs out of the hair store) Scene 4: Storekeeper: Ah. Welcome back. The girl with the boy with the gold pocket watch. Good heavens, what have you done to yourself? Della: Oh, please don’t Storekeeper (Staring at her): Well, hair grows. Della: The platinum watch fob you showed me? Storekeeper: Still in the case. Twenty-three dollars I believe I said. Della: You had said…twenty-one. Storekeeper: Had I? Twenty-one then. Della: but you see, I haven’t twenty-one Storekeeper: You haven’t twenty-one? Della: Nineteen ninety-seven actually. Storekeeper: Really? Afraid I couldn’t do that.
Della: Oh please. I’ve set all my hopes on it. Please help me. Storekeeper: Now don’t cry. I can’t stand tears, I always cry myself. Della: (Hopefully) So you’ll sell it for what I have? Storekeeper: No. Mouths to feed, you see. Della: Well, of course you must see to your family. It’s final then, the price? (She nods) Della: A merry Christmas madam, to you and yours. (Starts to go) Storekeeper: Wait. (She turns) Storekeeper: Take off your scarf girl. (She does) Storekeeper: Poor thing. You look like a plucked chicken, You may have the fob for twenty dollars. Della: I’ve only nineteen ninety-seven
Storekeeper: (He stares at her) Take it for heaven’s sake! (Gives her the fob, she gives him her money) Della: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. You are the very spirit of the season! (She exits) Storekeeper: Lord help you when he sees you. I hope the lad’s worth it. (The set is changed back to Della’s flat. She takes off her coat, puts the fob in a drawer and picks up a hand mirror). Scene 5: Della: Oh, thank goodness Jim isn’t home yet! I’m so excited! I can’t wait until he sees what I’ve bought for him. I know he’ll love it. I only hope he still loves me! Oh, nooo! What have I done?
When Jim sees this, he’ll say I look like a… like a nun! But what could I have done, oh, what could I have done with a dollar and eighty-seven cents? No! No, I’m not sorry I did this, and I won’t be, no matter what. This gift is just what Jim needed. That’s worth any price to me, any price at all. (LOOKS IN MIRROR AGAIN) Oh, please, make him think I’m still pretty! (AFTER A BEAT) No… no, I should give Jim more credit than that. He doesn’t love me for my hair! That would be silly. No, he loves me for me; he loves me for who I am, not for what I look like! (ANOTHER GLANCE INTO MIRROR) (The door opened and Jim stepped n and closed it) Jim: Della are you home?? Della: Yes, Jim, I’m… here. Jim: Good, I’m glad you’re home. Why do you have that shawl on your head? Della: I… um… um… shawl? What shawl? Jim: Oh, it doesn’t matter anyway. Merry Christmas, Della! (PICKS HER UP AND SPINS HER AROUND. SHAWL FALLS OFF HER HEAD) Merry, merry, merry, merry… (DAZED WHEN HE SEES HER HAIR, HE FALLS BACKWARD STRAIGHT BACKED ALL THE WAY TO THE GROUND) Della… oooooooh, Della. (GETTING UP AND RUSHING TO HER) Now, I want you to stay calm… but I think your hair is falling out. Della: Jim, my hair is not falling out.
Jim: (HE’S REALLY LOST IT NOW) Wait, maybe it’s here. (PICKS UP SHAWL, SHAKES IT, LOOKING FOR HAIR, FINDS NONE) Della: Jim, my hair is not falling out! Jim: Then one of us is crazy, and I hope it’s me! Della: Jim, don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and I sold it, because I just couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a gift! Jim: No… you can’t do that… I won’t let you do that! Della: I’ve already done it, Jim. Jim: Umh? Della: I’m me without my hair, aren’t I? You do still love me… don’t you? Jim: Uhm… Uh… oh, of course I do. But Della, you don’t understand. Your… our hair is gone! Della: (BEGINNING TO CRY) It’ll grow back. Jim: Yes, I know, but Della… your hair is gone! Della: Jim, are you all right? Jim: I’ve got to find it. (STARTS LOOKING IN STRANGE PLACES, MESSING UP THE APARTMENT, AS DELLA FOLLOWS HIM, STRAIGHTENING UP BEHIND HIM) Della: You needn’t look for it, Jim, I told you I cut it off and sold it so I could buy you a Christmas gift. You don’t really mind, do you? Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered, but nobody could ever count my love for you. So, should I put the chops on the stove, Jim? Jim: (SLOWLY RETURNING TO REALITY) Your hair is…
Della: Gone! Yes, Jim, now snap out of it. Please. Just say “Merry Christmas” and let’s be happy! Jim: (DAZED) Did you sell your hair? (DELLA HANDS HIM THE CARD. HE READS IT, STILL DAZED) Oh, I guess that’s how they make wigs. Della: Oh, Jim, open your gift tonight, all right, on Christmas Eve? Jim: But Della… Della: Oh, Jim, I’ll just die if I have to wait until tomorrow! Jim: But, Della… everything is… I don’t know; everything is all wrong. Della: What do you mean? Jim: Your hair, Della. It’s gone! Della: I’m sorry, Jim. I’m sorry I never realized you love me for my hair, and not for me. Jim: Della….
Della: But don’t worry! See, I can wear this shawl over my head for the next… three years, and you won’t ever have to look at me! (SHAWL IS OVER HEAD NOW) My hair will be grown out by then, and you can love me again. (SHE IS CRYING HERE. ) Jim: Della… Della, I love you! I’d love you if you were bald, and toothless, with six legs, and three eyes, and a big wart on the end of your nose! (THINKING OUT LOUD) I probably wouldn’t take you out very much, but I would love you. Della, I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shampoo or… or a shave that could make me like my girl any less.
But if you’ll open this package (GIVES IT TO HER), I think you’ll understand why you had me going there for a while at first. (DURING DELLA’S NEXT ACTION JIM HANGS UP HIS COAT AND HAT. DURING DELLA’S NEXT LINE JIM IS CONTINUALLY TRYING TO REMIND DELLA THAT HER HAIR IS GONE BUT CAN’T GET A WORD IN EDGE-WISE. ) Della: (OPENS PACKAGE AND GASPS) The combs! Oh, Jim, the combs from the store window on Broadway! Those beautiful pure tortoise shell combs with jeweled rims! Side and back–the whole set! Oh, Jim, thank you so much!! I’ve admired these combs through the window for months. But they’re so expensive, I never thought they’d be mine!
Oh, they’re beautiful, and they’re just the right shade for me! Oh, they’ll look so pretty in my ha… … Jim, Jim, my hair is… Both: Gone! Jim: Yeah, I know…. Della: (HALF LAUGHING, HALF CRYING) You’re right, Jim, I do understand what you meant. But it’s not really that bad. My hair grows so fast, Jim! I’ll just wrap these beautiful, wonderful combs up again, and keep them safe until my hair grows back out. Jim: Three years? Della: By then, the combs will be three hundred times more special, and three thousand times more beautiful. Jim: And you’ll be three million times more beautiful.
Della: So you DO hate my short hair! Jim: No, Della, I didn’t mean that, I was just…. Oh, how do I get myself into these things? Della… I know, you said there was a gift for me. You already opened yours; could I open mine? Della: Oh, yes! I can’t wait for you to see it. You don’t know what a nice–what a beautiful, nice gift I got for you! I know you’re going to love it. It’s the perfect thing! Jim: (UNWRAPS GIFT, FINDING BOX) Oooh… It’s a box. Della: Open it, silly! You don’t think I’m going to tell you what it is. Jim: (OPENS BOX, [LONG REACTION] THEN HE HOLDS UP THE CHAIN, STARING) Oh, Della.
Della: Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? It’s platinum! Jim: (CALMLY) Platinum… (THEN) Platinum!! (HE IS NOW REALIZING HOW MUCH HER HAIR WAS WORTH TO HIM, AND HOW MUCH HIS WATCH WS WORTH TO HER) Della: I ransacked the stores all over town to find it. It’s the perfect chain for your watch! Now you never have to worry about that old leather strap again, and you can show off your watch a hundred times a day. Let’s see how it looks, Jim. Take out your watch; I’ll put it on for you. Jim: (STILL IN SHOCK) Uh… I don’t know, Del. It’s such a beautiful gift. Maybe it should wait until tomorrow.
Or better still, let’s keep it with the combs, until your hair grows out. Della: Jim, don’t you like it? Jim: Aw, Della, it’s the best… it’s the most beautiful… thoughtful gift anyone’s ever given me. (TURNS AWAY) Della: Then what’s wrong? Jim: Della… I sold my watch to get the money to buy those combs. Now suppose you put those chops on the stove? Della: You WHAT?? Jim: (STARTING TO EXIT SL) I know, I’ll put the chops on the stove! Della: No, what did you just say? Jim: I sold my watch to buy you those combs. Della: That’s what I thought you said. Jim: Don’t be angry. Della: I’m not angry. DELLA GRABS JIM’S WATCH POCKET AND LOOKS IN) Jim: What are you doing? Della: I suppose it’s not going to grow back, is it? Jim: Not likely, no. Della: Oh, Jim, we’ve both been so foolish- (BEAT) -especially you! Jim: (LONG MUG) No, Della, I don’t think we’ve been foolish at all. Now think about this. If we had had money to buy these things with, it would have been… well, really nice. We’d be able to use them, and everything would be hunky-dory. But just think, Dell, think how special these beautiful, wonderful (NOTICES HOW DELLA HAS TRIED TO PUT THE COMBS IN HER SHORT HAIR TO LUDICROUS EFFECT) … seless… gifts are to us now. We didn’t just give of our wallets, Della, we gave of our hearts, too. Isn’t that what giving is supposed to be all about? Aw, Della, I think these were the… the wisest gifts we could have possibly given each other. Della: You know, Jim, I think you’re right. Let’s keep both of our gifts together in here (GETS PLAIN WOODEN BOX FROM DESK; PUTS GIFTS INTO IT) It’ll be our secret buried treasure. Jim: Merry Christmas, Della! Della: Merry Christmas, Jim! (HUG. DELLA CLEARS UP WRAPPING PAPER AND RIBBONS, AND EXITS BRIEFLY SL, AS THE “FOURTH WALL” COMES DOWN FOR THE LAST TIME)

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