“You’re heading out tonight?” Pam asked as she and Jim exited the elevator into the building lobby. It was Christmas Eve, and corporate had sent out a memo sending everyone home at 3:00pm.
“No, I think I’ll wait and go early tomorrow. There’s not much traffic early on Christmas morning-- pretty sure everybody’s opening presents.” Jim was spending Christmas day with his family at his brother Tom’s house.
Pam’s forehead creased, just a tiny bit. “Will you be all alone for Christmas Eve?”
“Nah, I’m having dinner with my roommate and his girlfriend-- I might even go to mass with them. And then I’ll settle in to finish wrapping presents for tomorrow. It’s actually good that they let us out early--oh!”
JIm had pushed the door to the parking lot open, revealing the first tentative snowflakes drifting in the chilly air.
Pam grinned widely. “Snow! Oh, maybe we’ll get a white Christmas after all!” she exclaimed. Jim had only worked with Pam for a few months, but she was already one of his favorite people in the office. In addition to being very funny, she was just nice about things like wondering about your Christmas Eve plans and getting excited about Christmas snow.
“It’s like five flakes, I wouldn’t get my hopes up,” Jim teased gently.
“No, look, it’s sticking! Mark my words, we’re having a white Christmas. In fact, you’d better leave right away, or you’re going to be snowed in.”
The fluffy snowflakes were, in fact, starting to stick on the cars and the tiny strip of yard around the building. They were also landing lightly on Pam’s hair and on the shoulders of her puffy coat. Jim noticed a sudden, alarming urge to reach out and touch her.
“I’m going to risk it,” he said. “I mean, driving,” he hastened to clarify, to himself as much as to Pam. “I’m going to risk waiting until the morning. I really do have to finish wrapping. But, um, I did start wrapping. So, uh, look....” Jim pulled a small package out of his coat pocket, colorfully and neatly wrapped. “I didn’t want to give this to you in the office, since I didn’t get something for everybody.”
Pam stopped digging her keys out of her purse. Her eyes widened with surprise. “Oh, wow, Jim, that’s so nice...I didn’t get you anything.”
“No, it’s fine. I mean, it was just something I saw and...really, it’s honestly nothing much, I just saw this and thought of you. So, take it. Merry Christmas.” He held out the small box.
Pam reached out and took the gift, breaking into a wide smile. “Thank you! Oh, my God, Jim, really? You got me a present? Thank you, seriously.” She wiggled her shoulders in an adorable little half-dance of excitement.
“Again, don’t get your hopes up. It’s nothing that exciting. I mean, not that it isn’t...whatever, just, open it!”
“Now? Oh, OK. Um, hold on. I don’t have enough hands.” Pam unlocked her car and put her purse and lunch bag into her back seat. “Eeee, OK. This is officially my first Christmas present of the year.”
Still smiling, Pam tore into the paper forcefully in a way that surprised Jim. He had figured her for a careful, neat un-wrapper. He filed the detail away into the catalog of delightful, surprising things he liked about Pam.
Pam got through the paper, and opened the small white box inside. Her grin of excitement transformed into a smirk as she spied the small plastic bag, filled with pastel-colored rings. “Did you get me a candy necklace, Jim?”
She nodded, clearly trying not to laugh. She couldn’t hold it in, however, and she burst forth with a peal of laughter. “Thank you. This is hilarious.”
“Well, I saw it that same night after we were talking about them, so…” Jim smiled.
Pam was beaming. She shook her head and looked down at the candy necklace again. “This is very exciting. I’m pretty sure this is the only jewelry I’m getting this year.” She rolled her eyes a bit.
Something about that made Jim feel a little queasy. Again, he fought the urge to reach out and touch her. So he was doubly surprised when she lunged forward and threw her arms around him.
“Seriously, thank you,” she said as she hugged him. She was small and her hug made a funny squishing sound as her nylon jacket rubbed together. He knew he couldn’t actually feel her warmth through both of their coats, but he suddenly felt flush with heat.
He squeezed her gently and let her go. “Merry Christmas, Pam.”
“Merry Christmas, Jim. Drive safely tomorrow.” Still smiling, Pam climbed into her car. Jim took his time getting out his keys and getting into his own car, half watching as Pam drove away.
He glanced down at the snow still accumulating in the parking lot. He hadn’t noticed how deep it had gotten until just that moment.