You’ll no doubt see a lot of September 11 news today. For one thing, it’s September 11 (as I write this), so it’s only natural. But also, it’s an historic day for America. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why.
But you probably won’t see this September 11 news anywhere else.
Because it’s not political. And it’s not provocative or tantalizing. But I’m sharing it with you because it’s interesting.
“Uh-oh. Interesting. So, it’s gonna be boring. Right?”
Well, it depends. Do the inventors of “the art of giving Christmas presents” interest you? How about the Queen of Sheba? Or King Solomon and all his riches?
Hmm. Maybe it’s starting to get a tiny bit interesting?
Turns out that King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and a mention of the inventors of “the art of giving Christmas presents” all have one person in common. And he was born on this date, September 11, in Greensboro, North Carolina. His dad was a doctor. But his mother died when he was three. So, he was raised by his grandmother and aunt.
He never crashed a plane into any buildings. But he DID embezzle money from a bank, in Austin, Texas, where he worked as a clerk. And, according to one article I read, he also worked as a ranch hand in Texas, licensed pharmacist, draftsman, bank clerk, and columnist. So, apart from the bank embezzler part, I can sort of relate to his eclectic job descriptions. I’ve had way more.
What makes this guy famous enough to write about?
OK, let’s take a line from a book he wrote. “Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts.” Yeah, there’s the Queen. And here’s the Solomon reference he wrote, “Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.”
If you’re an avid reader (as this guy was said to have been), you might be getting warm with a guess. What if I told you that Della sold her hair to a wig maker so she could buy a chain for Jim’s watch for Christmas? And what if I told you that, at about the same time, Jim sold his watch to buy her a set of hair combs she’d had her eyes on?
Starting to sound familiar?
All that happened in the book, “The Gift of the Magi.” And you might recall the Magi were the wise men who took gifts to the baby Jesus. Yep, they were the “inventors of the art of giving Christmas presents.”
And the author was William Sydney Porter. Better known as O. Henry.
So, his birth in 1862, is the September 11 news of the day you get here.
Because you can look at that other news all day everywhere else. And I prefer to look UP much higher than the tops of skyscrapers. Higher than the clouds of smoke and clouds of vapor. Far beyond the stratosphere. UP to the Heavens where my hope resides. Where the infinitely complex Maker of all the universe created the minds of writers like O. Henry. And me.
That’s where Life lives. Where it has always lived. And where you and I will live one day. At least we will when we trust and love the one those Magi visited so long ago.
Look way up there…
Heaven is way above the sky.
Look way up there…
God lives above the clouds up high.
If you’ll just lift your eyes and smile,
All tears will dry in just a while.
Look way up there…
Then tell your troubles all goodbye.
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