Gifted: Boris and Stella and The Perfect Gift by Dana Goldman
BORIS AND STELLA LIVED IN THE CITY.
BORIS PLAYED PIANO EVERY NIGHT IN THE LITTLE RESTAURANT DOWNSTAIRS. HE PLAYED MUSIC THAT HE LEARNED GROWING UP IN RUSSIA.
STELLA ADMIRED HIS MUSIC.
STELLA WAS A BAKER. SHE BAKED CAKES IN THE LITTLE SHOP NEXT DOOR THAT SHE HAD LEARNED TO MAKE GROWING UP IN ITALY.
BORIS ADMIRED HER CAKES.
IT WAS TRUE LOVE.
But the holidays are coming and both Boris and Stella have a problem. They both want to give each other the perfect present.
Stella's purse has only a few coins, and she wants to buy Boris a special dreidel to join the ones he received from his parents for Hanukkah as a boy. She looks around her little apartment and sees only one thing of value--a beautiful pine tree grown from seeds that her father gave her when she left Italy.
SUDDENLY STELLA HAD AN IDEA.
STELLA DIDN'T NEED THE TREE THAT REMINDED HER OF HER FAMILY DURING CHRISTMAS. THEY WERE ALWAYS IN HER HEART.
The florist shop nearby is happy to buy her beautiful Christmas tree for their show window, and Stella hurries to a shop across town which sells her the perfect dreidel for her dear Boris's collection.
Meanwhile, Boris has the same dilemma. He has no extra money for the perfect gift for Stella. Then his eyes fall on his collection of vintage dreidels, the ones his parents gave him every year already arrayed on his mantle with his menorrah, ready for Hanukkah.
SUDDENLY BORIS HAD AN IDEA.
HE DIDN'T NEED THE DREIDELS TO REMIND HIM OF HIS FAMILY. THEY WERE ALWAYS IN HIS HEART.
Boris hurries out to the shops, their windows full of Christmas things. And there it is atop a beautiful Christmas tree--a lovely faceted crystal star--the perfect gift for his dear Stella.
On the final day of Hanukkah, which this year is also Christmas Eve, Boris and Stella share their favorite foods, Boris's savory latkes topped with sour cream, just as Stella loves them, and Stella's beautiful pannetone, topped with hazelnuts and chocolate, just as Boris likes it. But then Stella notices something is missing. Where are the dreidels that Boris always has on his mantle for Hanukkah?
Boris pulls out his gift, the beautiful star for her Christmas tree, and tells her how he bought it for her perfect gift--a star for the top of a Christmas tree she no longer owns.
"MAMMA MIA!" STELLA CRIED.
Silently Stella pulls forth the wonderful dreidel she has for Boris, to join the precious collection he no longer possesses.
"BOZHE MIO! (OH, NO!)" SAID BORIS.
In a deft reworking of the O'Hanry's classic American Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi, Dana Goldman's Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014) retells for young readers the story of a loving pair who give up their most precious possessions to buy the perfect gift for each other. Like newlyweds Della and Jim in the original, Stella and Boris laugh together and then join hands as they understand the sacrifice behind their gifts. They place a cone from Stella's tree and the single new dreidel on the mantle as the beginning of their own holiday collection. A gift truly given from the heart is the perfect gift indeed.
Goldman's repurposed story loses none of the sweetness and meaning of the century-old classic. Hanukkah stories are few and far between, and stories that movingly combine Christmas and Hanukkah together are rare indeed. Goldman's illustrations have all the humor and joy that such a story as this deserves, the perfect gift, a fine read-aloud for the holiday season for all.