The sights and smells of Steamtown Mall accost Jim’s senses. People are walking on both sides of the mall while Christmas music blares from each shop creating mashups of songs he cares not to hear ever again. After weeks of procrastinating and trying to think of what to get his secret santa he’s decided to visit the mall for inspiration. It is only for this reason he finds himself standing in front of the directory trying to figure out which shop to go into so he can make his purchase.
When his secret santa name had been handed to him weeks ago, he felt elated to have received Pam’s name. Soon enough the elation turned to anxiety as he pictured giving Pam The Perfect gift in front of… the entire office. Running a hand down his face he had leaned back in his chair and glanced over at Pam who was busy working at her desk. He felt that familiar flutter in his chest that had started to take up residence since he met her. His sister Larissa had reminded Jim recently that Christmas is the time to tell people how you feel, and Jim had decided that he was going to take his sister advice.
But, how is he going to pick a gift that says “I want to be more than friends” while all their colleagues watch her open the gift? At first, he had thought of a scarf so she would have something to wrap around her that smelled like him until she concluded that he was worthy of wrapping himself around her. Upon discussing with Larissa, though, she deemed this gift lame and something she had already purchased for their mother. He had gone back to the drawing board, lying in bed at night picturing Pam’s face lighting up when she opened the box that he gave her.
As he turned from the directory, his shoulder knocked into the person trying to pass behind him. In his periphery, he could see a tall man in a tan jacket, glasses now askew, bending down and picking up his bags that were now all over the floor of the mall.
“Sorry! I’m so sorry,” Jim started to sputter as he bent down to help the person pick their things up. At that moment, it felt like the crowd had narrowed in on them, people saying, “Excuse me” and jostling them both as Jim attempted to help the person pick up their bags. Sliding most of the handles of the bags onto his hand, he stood up to come face to face with Dwight.
“Oh…” GOD! Jim finished internally. Why would this be the time to run into Dwight when he was having a crisis on what to buy for Pam?
“Hello Jim.” Dwight offered his hand to Jim as if they were meeting for the first time.
Jim wrapped his fingers around Dwight’s hand and completed the greeting gesture.
“Hey Dwight, what are you up to? Is Mose out of Vanilla Bean Noel lotion?”
Dwight, obviously confused by the mainstream lotion reference, quickly replies “No, I am here to get… someone a gift.” Dwight’s eyes are avoiding eye contact as Jim looks down at the mélange of bags between them and notices a few from women’s stores in the mix.
Jim’s eyes become wide as he suddenly realizes Dwight must be shopping for a woman. Perhaps an Angela woman.
Dwight curtly asks Jim what he was doing at the mall.
“I’m… I am…” Jim chuckles nervously and runs a hand down his face and decides to throw it out there, “I’m trying to find my Secret Santa a gift. It’s Pam. And… I want to get her something so she will know how I feel about her, but it’s also tricky since the whole office will be there…” Jim digs the toe of his shoe into the tile of the mall floor while staring at a giant snow globe in a store window. He risks a glance at Dwight to see a look on his face he hasn’t seen before. Regretting his admission, he abruptly says “Well, anyways… see you Monday!”
Jim turns to leave and takes two steps away from Dwight when he hears Dwight say something.
He turns around rubbing the back of his neck, “What’s that Dwight?”
“A teapot.” Dwight must nearly yell his response because of the noise around them, “She drinks tea constantly. Honestly, I don’t know how she doesn’t have kidney stones by now. You could conceal things inside so you can show her how you feel…” the last part he’s nearly whispering while making a gagging noise representative of a cat with a hairball.
“Wow. Thanks so much for the advice, Dwight,” he feigns sincerity as he turns and mumbles “Merry Christmas.” Dwight’s idea is not a bad idea to get her a teapot. She could use it at her desk to keep her tea warm. He could put things inside of it that he’s kept like that hot sauce packet and the golf pencil… snapping his fingers he says out loud “Yes!”
He smiles to himself as he walks into the first store and stops at a pretty display with fairy lights highlighting some bauble ornaments. He holds one of a “First Married Christmas” and then puts it back.
“Don’t rush it Jim” he murmurs to himself.
Finding a teapot ends up being more challenging than he originally thought and by the time he leaves the mall he’s over heated and he smells like a combination of Cinnabon and McDonald’s. As he sits in his car while it defrosts, he smiles to himself thinking of how lucky he had been to run into Dwight of all people.
The day of the Christmas party Jim’s nerves are in hyper drive. Not only does Michael announce that they are doing Yankee Swap, but Dwight ends up with the teapot. After trying to unsuccessfully to coerce Dwight into giving Pam the teapot, Jim sits at his desk rubbing the palms of his hands over his eyes. He thinks maybe this is the universe’s way of showing him that it’s not meant to be.
“Hey Jim?” Pam calls to him from her desk. He looks up to see her smiling widely. He gathers what little strength he has for this dumb Christmas party and stands up so she can show off her iPod to him. However, as he approaches her desk, he sees she’s holding his gift. His heart is now racing as he realizes she’s holding the teapot that has things inside of it that remind him of her.
“I traded with Dwight,” she beams.
Jim looks over to Dwight’s seat where he has a full cup of hot chocolate overloaded with marshmallows. He holds the mug up in a “cheers” gesture and smiles at Jim and mouths “Merry Christmas” to him.
Moving his attention back to Pam, he tells her “Well this gift comes with bonus gifts…” and he starts to unpack the little gift that contains everything his big heart wants to say to her.