Frucht (Snap, Fruit of the Month--both 1988) gives the ``Gift of the Magi'' a contemporary spin as she unevenly limns a very 1990's marriage. The setting is a Middle American town small enough for characters to walk to work but big enough to provide well-paying jobs for the protagonists, husband Douglas and wife Cara--which means that the couple, who love each other very much, as well as their son Georgie and dog Kato, can then spend most of their time with their feelings and each other. Life is all sweetness and light as Douglas does his radio broadcasts and Cara intermittently works at her part-time counseling job; and since they take themselves very seriously, ``they send money to all the right places, never gripe about taxes, and turn off the lights when they leave a room.'' A second pregnancy, graphically described, produces young Max, and Cara feels the family is complete--but 18 months later, Cara is pregnant again. This time, the pregnancy raises all the big questions and emotions that, with supportive husband Douglas, Cara fully addresses. While the debate is conducted with a moving sensitivity, Cara does go on and on--which undercuts the impact of her ultimate choice. After a decision is made, though, a foolish lie precipitates a temporary rupture in the marriage--just as Douglas and Cara (each unbeknownst to the other) have undergone sterilization (``the fear and apprehension and worry'' would be forever lifted). But this is happy-ending country: by the close, the couple become reconciled and reveal just what it is they've done for each other. A moving and thoughtful handling of difficult issues by characters unfortunately more conventional than substantial. And the ending is just too cute, too slick--more a neat solution than a cosmic sacrifice.