The Christmas tree across the conference room was tall and white. On one side there were no presents and no cards and the ornaments looked sad. On the other, a display of employee-bought gifts. It was very hot and the catered lunch would not arrive for another forty minutes.

“What should we drink?” the girl asked. She had taken off her Santa hat.

“It’s pretty hot,” the man said. “I shouldn’t have worn Long Johns.”

“Let’s drink seltzer.”

“Two seltzers!” the man called out, to nobody in particular.

The girl looked at the office Christmas tree. “They’re lovely white elephant gifts,” she said.

She put her hand out and took hold of two presents nestled underneath the lower boughs.

“And you think these will make us happy?”

“I know they will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have just chosen two random presents without giving much thought to what might be inside.”

“So have I,” said the girl. “And afterwards they were all so happy.”

“Well,” the man said, “If you don’t want to open them you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But it’s really easy – just rip the paper at the corner.”

“And you really want to?”

“I think it’s the best thing to do around the holidays. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.”

“And if I open it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love working with me?”

“I love working with you now. Your job performance isn’t really contingent on whether or not you open a white elephant gift. ”

‘But if I do, and it’s a nice white elephant gift, you’ll like it?”

“I’ll love it! I love it now but I just can’t think about it, because I don’t know what it is, because we’re just standing here in the conference room not opening it.”

“If I do it you won’t ever worry?”

“I won’t worry because the budget was $15.”

“Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about getting a good white elephant gift.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just going to be another Billy Bass Big Fish Mouth thing.”

“Well, I sure hope not.”

“Oh, yes. But I don’t care. I’ll open it and everything will be fine.”

“I don’t want you to open it if you feel that way.”

The girl opened the white elephant gift. It was a Big Billy Mouth Bass.

“I knew it,” the girl said.

“How did you know?”

“Because I heard it singing Al Green earlier.”

“Then why did you pick it?”

“I thought it would make you happy.”

The man opened his gift. It was a pink slip. He would have to find a new job come January.

“They’re lovely gifts,” the girl said.