Quandary of the Magi, Part 1

Want to know where I’m going to school in the fall? Read on!

Nearly everyone in this country with a high school education is familiar with O. Henry, and, by extension, his most famous short story: The Gift of the Magi. I’ve read a few of his other stories and I find them mostly forgettable, perhaps dated beyond their relevance. Magi, however, stays with me and continues to pop up in my thoughts. There’s something about that perfectly ironic ending, poignant to the point of melodramatic, but also sincere and heartwarming. I recently picked up an old compendium of O. Henry stories and re-read the story. What caught my attention this time was not the plot but the final paragraph, in which the author takes his time to explain the title. He suggests that Jim and Della did, in fact, give each other the perfect Christmas gifts that night. The leather strap for a pawned watch, the tortoise shell combs for tresses now gone — these essentially worthless items were symbols of the priceless gifts they did bestow on each other. When O. Henry mentions the “greatest treasures of their house,” I believe he means their willingness to give up their most prized belongings and beliefs for the sake of their cherished loved one. The immaterial, invaluable spiritual gift of sacrifice is the true gift of the magi, perhaps the most important ever given.

One problem I have with Magi is that the its perfect ending is almost never duplicated in real life. The story is made all the more poignant to me because, in real life, both parties seldom share the combined joy and anguish of the “O. Henry ending.” And so would it be with the medical school decision, one that has taken far longer and consumed far more of our patience and goodwill than Kim or I expected. The question was not whether a sacrifice was necessary, but rather, who would make it? Who would compromise their personal beliefs for the sake of the other, and who would benefit from the sacrifice?

This August I will enter the Georgetown University School of Medicine, class of 2010.

I withdrew the last of my other acceptances on May 12, sliding in just under the AAMC deadline of the 15th. This means that the decision process took somewhere around seven months, blowing past the original deadline of January 1 and just about every other deadline we set after that. I had originally planned to explain what happened in those seven months at the top of this entry, but it ended up being incredibly long and perhaps too boring for people who just wanted to know the ending. I’ve decided instead to put this up now and post the second part of the story in the near future. For now, though, break out the blue and grey. Blair bleeds Hoya blue! (But not before he bleeds Big Red. Or something like that.)

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[…] 9:05 am / friends school Blair: “I will join the Georgetown University School of Medicine, class of 2010.” […]



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