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Story Notes:
It's the time of year when memories are at the forefront of my mind, with family and friends close at hand.

I was also kind of expecting a bit more from Jim in regards to Pam's gift, other than it being expensive. So, I wanted to give it some back story. Enjoy!
Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Memories are a funny thing sometimes.

You’re sitting at your desk in the same office you’ve been sitting in for almost eight years, and you can vividly remember being six years old. You remember Penny wearing a blue and white polka dot dress with a matching bow in her hair and you remember rolling your eyes when she walked out of the bedroom each morning because she never took that damn outfit off. You remember the day that your dad sat you and Penny down and told you that Muffins, your bunny, had gone to live with a new family because he couldn’t bear to watch his little girls cry. You remember how Alex “the Booger Picker” tried to kiss you on the playground and he was wearing a green shirt and when you told your mom, she sighed and told you to play nice with the boys. You do remember your dad having to tell you that Granny Mimi passed away, and you remember her gnarled hands. You remember your mom slipping Mimi’s silver bracelet over your wrist, many sizes over too big, but telling you it was very special.

You blink and suddenly you’re 16, and you’re wearing a gold bow in your ponytail and Roy’s “away game” football jersey because you’re playing at home against Dickson City. It’s Friday night, early fall, and the chill in the air is just brisk enough to make you glad you wore that maroon long sleeved tee under the white jersey. Penny and her friends are sitting below you with the other underclassmen, but this year, you’re a Junior and you’re dating the star of the football team. You watch some of the guys who play soccer throw popcorn at each other, and the other girlfriends are gossiping about one of the girls from your Social Studies class, and you vaguely remember how you got right here, to this spot. The wind blows gently, brushing the bangs off your face, and the smell of the air is the sweet scent of decaying grass, broiled hot dogs, and sweat. It feels electric. It feels so utterly fake.

An inhale and you’re 26, living in an apartment alone. The walls are dingy gray, but you have three full cans of yellow paint waiting for you when you get home from work. You picked the color out yourself, standing in the paint aisle of Target for a full ten minutes contemplating the subtle differences between Pearl Mist and Winter Horizon when it hits you that things are never black and white – everything that matters has to have shades of gray. You remember biting the side of your lip, looking over the massive array of rainbowed paper tiles, and you close your eyes and your hand scans. Without peeking, you grasp the long paper in front of you, and you pull it to your chest. You take a deep breath and decide that the color your thumb is touching is going to be the exact color you paint your living room, mauve or puce be damned. You open your eyes and your lip twitches. The color is called “Sunshine.” Something you desperately need in your life.

As you exhale, you’re sitting at your desk, wearing a red cardigan with your husband to your left, his ring on your finger, your baby smiling at you from the picture in front of you. You remember the day Jim came to work at Dunder Mifflin, his shirt pressed effortlessly (by his mom) but his tie wrinkled all to hell.

You remember the day he bent in front of you in the pouring rain. You can’t remember how you got to the car, but you remember the thick, heavy air surrounding you as he peeled your wet shirt from your torso and how cold his lips felt against your clavicle.

You remember holding your baby in your arms after she was born. You remember passing her off to her daddy, wrapped in a pink blanket with red hearts, a white hat pulled snuggly down over her ears, and how Jim sat down with her. His eyebrows were pulled together, looking puzzled, before he looked up and you saw the tears in his eyes. You remember how you’d never felt more real; how nothing on earth could have felt as tangible or as perfect as that moment, as Cece’s hand slipped from the blanket and found her daddy’s index finger, squeezing tightly. You remember the guttural noise that escaped your husband’s mouth, the hiccupping gasp. You remember just knowing that he’d never felt more substantial than right at that moment, too.

But there are things you find you can’t remember that put an ache in your chest and, if you think about it too much, can bring the tears to your eyes.

You can’t remember when you got Muffins, or even when you’d finally understood that she’d died.

You can’t remember what happened to Alex, the Booger kid. You think he moved to another state during middle school, but you can’t be sure.

You can’t remember the name of the girl that the football girlfriends were gossiping about, but you remember her being quiet. You do remember wishing to have more strength to be her friend.

You don’t remember the last fight you and Roy had. It seems like something to be confused about as opposed to being upset with, but after ten years, the last fight should be something you remember. Something that he said that would have made you say, “You know what? No more”. You don’t remember what it was over, or why it happened, or who it involved. You only remember the date, because it should have been the day before your wedding.

You’re sure you don’t really remember how hard it was to be away from him during your tenure in New York, but you remember… God, you remember… the look on his face in the pale gold of the waning sunlight as he exited Dunder Mifflin that brisk fall afternoon.

You have no real memories of the last hours of labor. Jim calls it “selective memories”, but you both know he remembers the crazy things you said.

And most importantly, you don’t remember how you lost Mimi’s bracelet. You’d slipped it over your wrist again when you turned 16, it finally fitting. You remember your mom seeing it and turning away, one hand pressed against her mouth.

You remember rolling your eyes when one of the football girlfriends scoffed at the silver, reminding you that Scranton High’s colors were maroon and gold and Roy’s girlfriend of all people should know that.

You remember the saleswoman’s upturned nose as you tried on wedding dresses for a VA reception, and how she tried to convince you to wear something more “dainty”.

You remember running your thumb over it as you turned from a bedroom, from a ring left on a bureau, from a comfortable life.

You remember sitting in front of Jim on your first actual date, blushing as red as the tomato sauce on your pasta as he told you he liked it, how it was very you. You remember retorting, “Old and tarnished? Very nice, Jim.” You remember his flushed cheeks, too.

You remember taking it off at the height of your pregnancy, when no jewelry at all would fit over your swollen appendages.

You just don’t remember where the bracelet went.

You do remember the exact number of coils each strand of silver caressed before looping into another swirled line.

You remember the feeling of the cool metal sliding over your skin on cool mornings, the refreshing texture juxtaposed with rough denim and scratchy wool.

And you’ll forever remember that moment, sitting in the break room just days before Christmas, when you peeled away the wrapping paper and lifted the white cover of the jeweler’s box, to find a near replica of the bracelet that had seen you through so many days… so many nights… so many memories.

You remember the look on Jim’s face as he opened his gift, lighting up at the present that you had painstakingly poured hours into.

And you would remember, forever, a first Christmas morning in your husband’s childhood home, bouncing your red santa printed pajama’d baby girl on your knee. You remember her giggle as Jim threw tissue paper in the air, and his grin at the sweet sound.

Memories are sometimes funny things. Happiness, sadness, joy and pain. Reflections are cathartic; Recollections are often all too brief. But the things that matter stay affixed in place despite new memories and new experiences.

And that’s quite alright with you.
Chapter End Notes:

Thanks for reading! And, um... reviews are sexy, so, I think you know what to do ;)

stjoespirit04 is the author of 25 other stories.
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