The Gift of the Magi
How we cite our quotes:
She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends – a mammoth task. (20)
Della's love has "ravaged" her – it's cost her dearly. As the narrator admits, repairing the damage is a "mammoth task." Della's not only given up something she loved, she's also potentially made herself less attractive to Jim. Love's wonderful, but it's certainly not undemanding, or necessarily easy.
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops. (23)
Della devotedly makes the flat ready for Jim in preparation for his arrival. That feeling of "home" that the narrator described earlier is created in part by the very concrete things Della does to maintain it and make the flat a welcoming place.
She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty." (24)
Della actually seems worried that Jim won't find her pretty. We've got to wonder how well placed her concern is. How much do her looks really matter to Jim?