Printed in Color: A Dunder Mifflin Diversity Initiative.
"So … let’s throw out some ideas,” Michael said, capping the whiteboard marker.
Jim looked around the conference room at his coworkers, still on a holiday hangover the Monday after Thanksgiving and still fully tuning out their boss. He raised his hand.
“Um, what is this?” Jim motioned to the whiteboard.
“Says in the title, ‘diversity initiative’,” Michael tapped the marker under the words.
Oscar spoke up, “Michael you’ve given us no context. What is the aim of the initiative, who is running it, what are we expected to do?”
“Alright, alright,” Michael half-yelled. “It’s from corporate, and they want everyone involved.”
“Why don’t you read the memo out loud?” Pam gently suggested after a moment.
Michael snatched up the paper on the table in front of him. “You know what, let me just read this memo out loud to you.”
Jim stifled a chuckle when Pam shot him an eyeroll, and Michael began reading a perfectly corporate-ese statement about Dunder Mifflin’s commitment to creating a culture of inclusion and welcoming and how they wanted every branch to come up with a presentation demonstrating the diversity of the workforce.
Everyone who halfway cared knew the real story that in addition to sleeping with his assistant, accusations were coming out that that ex-CFO Randell often used very coarse, very bigoted language when talking about women and minorities. So a hastily-created damage-control initiative was created to give the appearance of progress to their new CFO David Wallace. Jim halfway admired their chutzpah for delegating to the regional branches the work that a well-paid diversity consultant in New York should probably be doing.
Michael once again asked for ideas, and a few general topics came up: food, music, traditional customs.
“Marriage ceremonies,” Dwight said.
“Okay, they kind of fall under traditions here,” Michael replied, writing on the board.
Dwight continued, “And marriage consummation customs.”
The room collectively groaned and Michael quickly erased “weddings” from the board. “Dammit, Dwight –”
“What about holidays, with Christmas coming up and all,” Phyllis meekly said.
Everyone murmured in agreement (Jim suspected they all knew the faster they settled on a topic the faster this meeting would be over) and Michael seemed encouraged. “Holidays then. So we can talk about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa,” he pointedly said to Stanley, who never looked up from his crossword puzzle book. “And then, um, Kelly, what holiday do you celebrate this time of year?”
Jim could see Toby in the corner tensing up as Michael started veering into the dangerous waters of “other people’s cultures.”
Kelly shrugged, “I just do Christmas. Like not the Jesus-y stuff, but the tree and lights and the gift giving.” Kelly was oblivious to Angela shooting her the most sour of looks.
“What about your parents?” Michael pressed.
“Like an Indian holiday? Um, Diwali I guess, but that was like a month ago.”
“Diwali! Yes, perfect.” Michael proceeded to write DEEWALLY - KELLY on the whiteboard and once Kelly corrected him and he finally got to DIWALI (roughly five minutes later), he moved on to Oscar. “What's that one holiday you celebrate, the Mexican Halloween with the skulls?” Toby was white-knuckled now.
Oscar scoffed softly, “I assume you’re talking about Dia de Muertos , Day of the Dead, it’s actually more like All Saints Day than Halloween–”
“ Day of the Dead - Oscar ,” Michael said slowly as he wrote.
“You want me to present on a holiday I’ve never really celebrated from a country I’ve never lived in?”
Michael put his hands together, “ Macho Gracias.”
Before Oscar could protest or Michael could try more bad Spanish, Pam shouted, “Boxing Day.”
“Boxing Day? What’s that?” Michael said, clearly intrigued.
Pam shrugged, “It’s right after Christmas, they have it in England.”
“Oh, well, I’m part English so I could take that one. Yeah, Boxing day,” Michael started throwing air jabs at Ryan, who had the unfortunate position of being closest to Michael.
“Chinese New Year,” Jim called out, mostly to give Ryan a break.
“That’s a good one, Chinese New Year. Chinese…” Michael took a look around the room, “You know what? I think we have a good list here so let’s stick with these holidays.”
Jim tossed a look to Pam, who giggled soundlessly, and Jim then decided this meeting was a little worth it after all.
“So who wants to present on Christmas?”
Dwight and Angela shot their hands up, then gave each other intense and weird glares.
Toby, barely recovered from the fact that Michael somehow avoided a complete cultural-relations disaster earlier, piped in, “I think we should focus on the cultural traditions of Christmas celebrations, more than the religious aspect.” Angela’s glare shifted to Toby.
Dwight quickly began his pitch, “I can talk about how many Christmas traditions are actually German in origin, the Christmas tree, advent calendars. I could also talk about Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas.”
“Oh, what’s that?” Michael asked.
Michael’s genuine interest made Dwight’s face light up, “Oh, it's great, gluhwein, hog maw, the visit from Belsnickel, the breaking of the pig rib. You know, Michael, if you want an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas you’re welcome to come to my aunt Shirley’s this year–”
“Okay, okay, Dwight you can present on Christmas. But real Christrmas, not that, whatever the hell you were describing.” Dwight pumped his fist in victory and Angela somehow started scowling even more. “Which leaves Hanukkah. Who wants to do Hanukkah?” Michael asked.
Jim chewed the inside of his cheek as everyone looked at each other murmuring.
Pam shyly raised her hand, “I can maybe do it, I had a really good Jewish friend in school and she told me a bit about it.”
Dwight looked to Pam, “If you need help with research, I can loan you a book from my grandpa Mannheim. It’s in German though, but has a lot of illustrations.”
Jim started shaking his head and Pam’s eyes darted around. “Um, what year was this book published?” she asked tentatively.
“I believe in nineteen-thirty –”
“Nope, no,” Jim didn’t realize he said it outloud until he looked to see most every face was on him. “Um, there's no need for that, Dwight. I’ll do Hanukkah.”
“Okay, maybe you and Pam can team up,” Michael suggested.
Jim said “sure” to that suggestion as nonchalantly as he could, giving Pam a small smile and ignoring the flutter in his stomach when she smiled back brightly.
Dwight turned in his chair and stared at Jim with unblinking eyes. “You’re familiar with Hanukkah? Did you learn from Katy? I wondered if she was maybe Jewish, she does have that red hair.”
Jim felt his eyes bulge, “Wow. No, I am familiar with Hanukkah because … my family celebrates Hanukkah.”
Now every face was on him with that curious-yet-apprehensive look Jim hated. Meredith was first to break the painfully awkward silence, “You’re Jewish?”
“On my mom’s side yeah.”
“Does that mean you never had a Christmas tree?” Kevin asked in a concerned tone.
“No, my dad was raised Christian so we kinda did both,” Jim said with a half-grin.
“What denomination is your father?” Angela of course asked.
Jim scrunched his nose in thought, “Um, Presbyterian I think.” Which somehow earned a scoff.
“So you sort of do Chrismukkah,” Kelly added.
Jim tilted his head, “What is that?”
“Christmas and Hanukkah together, it’s Seth Cohen’s holiday on the O.C.”
“Oh, I loved that episode!” Michael turned to Jim, “Maybe you’d like to present on Chrismukkah?”
After pretending to ponder for a moment, Jim shook his head, “Nah, I’ll stick with Hanukkah.” The smile from Pam was absolutely the only thing making this bearable.
Dwight still was staring at him and Jim was pretty sure he still hadn’t blinked, “So you’re circumcised, right?”
Something between a choke and a cough came from Toby, “Michael, We should really move this along.”
“Yeah, we have all the holidays covered, right?” Pam said.
“Kelly’s doing Diwali, Oscar has Day of the Dead, Dwight’s got Christmas, Stanley has Kwanzaa,” Michael again pointedly looked at Stanley, who again never looked up from his crossword, “I’m doing Boxing Day, and last but not least, Jim and Pam have Hanukkah.” He put a throaty emphasis on the first H. “That’s it, so go work on that, and uh, meeting adjourned.”
Angela was the first out of the room and everyone slowly stood to follow, even as Dwight and Oscar futilely tried to ask how long this presentation was going to be and when the deadline was and what should a presentation actually entail.
“So what are the odds that Michael’s ‘presentation’ is going to be him talking about boxers for five minutes?”
Leaning against Pam’s desk, Jim considered this for a moment, “Pretty good, especially if he finds a certain website called boxingdayreseach-dot-blogspot-dot-com, which someone may have been working on for the last half hour.” He popped a jellybean in his mouth and smiled as Pam laughed.
“Oh hey,” her eyes narrowed, “how come I didn’t know you were Jewish?”
“Well, half-Jewish, but it passes down on the mother’s side so technically full-Jewish.”
She rolled her eyes, “How come I didn’t know you were half-jewish-but-techincally-all-Jewish?”
Jim popped another jellybean in his mouth, “Because I’ve never told anyone here.” Pam asked why not, and Jim arched an eyebrow, “Were you not present for the five uncomfortable minutes of interrogation in the conference room a short while ago? Plus, I don’t keep shabbat or anything, and neither does my mom really. If we ever do a big holiday it’s at my grandmother’s in New Jersey.”
“You’re half New Jerseyan too? Do I know you at all?” Pam teased.
Jim smirked, “I’m an enigma, Pam. But yeah, I think my mom mostly did Hanukkah with us for the food.”
Pam smiled, “Oh yeah, the latkes? And the little jelly doughnuts?”
“ Sufganiyot , you know your stuff,” Jim said, impressed. She shrugged and Jim started thinking about the small potato pancakes. “My grandma makes amazing latkes, I just ate lunch and I could still eat five of them right now.”
“Maybe our presentation should just be serving and eating latkes.”
“Simple, tasty, everyone leaves happy, I think you may be onto something, Beesly.”
“Traditiooooooon, Tradition!” Michael sang deeply as he walked out of his office. Jim lowered his head and took a deep breath before looking to Michael standing next to him. “You know that one? Fiddler on the Roof?”
Jim lifted his brows, “Yeah, I think everyone does.”
“It’s a pretty popular musical,” Pam added.
Michael ignored their replies and smiled, “I’m looking forward to your presentation.”
“Yeah, I’m interested in learning about all the different holidays.”
“But especially Hanukkah, your peoples’ most important holiday,” Michael said with great regard.
Jim shook his head, “Yom Kippur is the most important holiday.”
“One of your most important holidays.”
“It's top ten for sure,” Jim said with a half-grin.
“Well I’ll leave you to it, and uh, are you good with the snack machine, keeping kosher and all that?”
“Yeah, I’m - I’m good.” Jim had to avoid looking at Pam, who was covering her mouth trying not to burst out laughing.
Michael gave a thumbs up and retreated to his office, and Pam started giggling, “You could have maybe upgraded our snacks just then. Told him Tastykake is kosher or something.”
Jim let out an exhausted laugh and shook his head “Now you see why I never told anyone here?” He then gave Pam a little nod, “Tastykake is actually kosher, by the way.”
“You want me to call him back out here?” Pam lifted up the receiver, “Sing ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ with him and we can change out the entire vending machine.”
“Okay, stop,” Jim grabbed the receiver and put it back. He let out a tsk, “Very un- mensch of you.”
She just giggled and he felt the smile break through. As much as he would have rather not revealed his heritage to his weird coworkers today, having an excuse to hang out with Pam working on whatever this presentation turned out to be was a pretty nice condolence.