Kenneth Parcell was the merriest of revelers this holiday season. He was always in a good mood anyway, but the time surrounding the blessed birth of Jesus put him over the moon. No one at TGS had ever noticed, naturally, but there were shades of bliss, best told by the height of the wrinkles on Kenneth's forehead:
Mountain-sized: blissed out!
Like unto the Himalayas: I'm comin', Lord, my heart is likely to explode any moment now!
He was wearing an expression in the Appalachian Mountain range when Miss Maroney idly mentioned she was going shopping for Ms. Lemon's gift. "But I just don't know what to get," she confided conspiratorially. "Should it be the framed and signed photo of me in The Rural Juror? Or a bronzed lock of my hair?"
"Oh, Miss Maroney, I think either gift is a perfect representation of yourself," he said with absolute honesty. "Ms. Lemon will love either one, I'm sure."
"You don't think it's too..."
"Self-congratulatory?" he tried. Not that that was a bad thing to be, in Kenneth's mind. Not for all the wonderful and brilliant people here at TGS.
"Priceless?" she asked as if she hadn't heard him at all. "I mean, do you have any idea how much either of those might fetch in certain corners of the internet?"
His face fell. "I wouldn't know very much about that at all, because the internet is the work of the dev—"
"A whole heck of a lot, and I should know, because I've been outbid at the last second on my very own items!" She shook her head to clear away that unpleasant thought. "Anyway, which do you think?"
"I really don't know, Miss Maroney. Maybe I could... try to feel her out?"
Her face brightened into the most amazing smile, and it lit him up brighter than the sun. "That's an amazing idea, Kenneth! Would you please be a dear and do that?" She patted his cheek, and he closed his eyes into her magical TV-star touch.
She was gone too soon, though, and when he opened his eyes again, he found Mr. Jordan standing in front of him, clutching a doughnut. "Do you think that I am thoughtless?"
Kenneth was horrified. "Why, no! Of course not! Who would tell you such a thing?"
"Grizz. He said he 'I can’t believe I keep working for such a thoughtless boss.' And Dot Com told him he knew what he meant!" Mr. Jordan scowled.
"That's harsh, Mr. Jordan. Maybe he didn't mean what you thought he meant?"
"I know I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, but it's part of my charm." He preened for a moment. "At least, that's what my agent tells me."
"Well, actually, Mr. Griswold probably meant that you don't think of anyone but yourself," Kenneth explained gently.
"How could he say that? After I got him diamond-studded shoelaces. And Dot Com a solid gold bracelet with my face as the charms!"
"Ohhh. I, for one, would leap for joy if I even touched something like that, but maybe that isn't Mr. Griswold's idea of a proper Christmas gift?"
"How could that be, Kenneth? There's nothing more 'proper'" he pronounced the word in a mangled British accent, "than diamond-studded shoelaces!" Mr. Jordan rubbed at his forehead with his hand. "How ungrateful! Maybe it's him that is thoughtless."
Kenneth tried another tack. "I bet he wants you to get something he would enjoy instead."
"Do you think so? I wonder what that could be...?"
"I could try to—"
He found himself pressed into a hug almost a strong as that time the Mama Bear that lived outside their family cabin tried to adopt him. "Oh, thank you, Kenneth! Drop it by tomorrow," Mr. Jordan said, and he spun on his heel without further directions.
Kenneth's rapture was approaching Rocky Mountains-level now. He was getting to help not one, but two of the stars of TGS with their gift giving? Could it get any better?
Ms. Lemon walked by then, talking to herself, as usual. "Fried crapballs! Jack and his stupid perfect gift-giving..." Apparently it could get better!
As she moved out of range, he scurried to catch up. He slipped in front of her at the elevators. "Ms. Lemon? May I be of assistance?"
She sighed as she noticed him. "Oh, hey, Kenneth. No. Just need to head upstairs." She stepped past him to go into the elevator.
He followed her in. "I couldn't help but overhear you worrying about getting a gift for Mr. Donaghy."
"You did? Was I talking to myself that loudly?" She winced.
"No, but my ears are trained to pick up the slightest mention of distress. Back in Stone Mountain, whenever the runt of the litter was in danger of being squashed by his litter mates, I was always the first to help."
"Oh!" Ms. Lemon smiled. "You saved your own Wilbur! Sort of like Charlotte's Web. You know, the children's book...?"
"I never read any children's books other than the Illustrated Bible, Ms. Lemon, but if Wilbur was the farmer and Charlotte was the sow, then I reckon so. It was survival of the fittest in that pen, and I couldn't let those runts suffer any longer than they had to."
"So you sa—"
"I was the fastest neck-snapper in my age group."
Ms. Lemon's face twisted in disgust.
"My uncle-daddy Harlan was always bragging about it..." He was lost in happy thought for a few moments but the ding of the elevator reaching Mr. Donaghy's floor snapped him out of it. "But why am I flapping my lips like this? It's you that needs the help!"
Ms. Lemon lifted a hand to her neck involuntarily. "I—I'm good, Kenneth, really." She increased her speed to get to Mr. Donaghy's door. He had to hop to keep up. "See you later!" She ducked into the office.
"Just let me know if you change your mind!" She didn't seem to hear him. Kenneth's forehead wrinkles softened in disappointment. "Oh, well, I guess I still have Miss Maroney and Mr. Jordan to help," he said to no one in particular.
Jonathan, who was right there, didn't lift his head. "She's doomed anyway." He didn't sound sad about that - he actually sounded... gleeful!
"Doomed? What do you mean?"
"Every year, Mr. Donaghy picks a masterful gift for Liz, and she can't think of anything to get him this year. She was talking about Bushnell's 12-year-old single malt! Pshh. Everyone knows the best is 21-year-old."
"Ohhhh, that doesn't sound good."
Jonathan smiled with a touch of wickedness. "It isn't. If you're Liz Lemon, getting the right gift for Mr. Donaghy is pretty much Mission: Impossible."
Kenneth pressed his lips together in disapproval. This man was a disgrace to his profession. But then he felt joy suffuse him at his next thought. Sometimes those most in need of help didn't know it! "Thanks!" he said to Jonathan, who gave him a puzzled look, and then he pranced toward the elevators.
This was going to be the best day ever! Most days he could only help one, maybe two of the most important people in his life. But three? In an "impossible" situation? He never felt his feet touch the floor for the whole elevator ride down.
Kenneth couldn't bear the thought of taking even a second off of work, so he had to plan carefully. And he couldn't order anything online. As he had been about to tell Miss Maroney earlier, his pastor had delivered a sermon just this Sunday about the evils of amazon.com. It was clearly intent on total world domination, which was the first step toward the reign of the Antichrist.
So he had three gifts to find: one for Ms. Lemon, one for Mr. Griswold, and one for Mr. Donaghy. Each of their gifts had to be perfect. Just the thought of seeing the joy on their faces made Kenneth have to catch his breath.
He set his stopwatch, donned his special-occasion page jacket and black knit cap (it was nippy out!) and left the TGS studios precisely at 1 AM.
Shoppers at Macy's NYC hardly noticed the shadowy figure skulking between the festive displays. If they had, they might have dismissed it as a figment of their overtired imaginations. But by the time the figure had disappeared, one more card for the "guess the number of Christmas balls in this jar" contest, specifically created for the all-night shopping crowd, had magically slipped into the box. Winner would be announced at 4 AM, must be present to win.
Kenneth had never lost a contest like that before. And now he had three more hours.
"手羽先アイスミルク おねがいします," he requested in fluent Japanese. His penpal from his elementary school days who now lived in New York was only too happy to deliver the fine delicacy from her import shop. Two more hours.
Though the building had some of the finest security in the world, Kenneth could easily rappel down the side to land with cat-like feet on former senator James Buckley's balcony. He and Kenneth went way back, and the page knew Buckley still liked a middle of the night snack. One more hour.
Kenneth tapped his stopwatch. 5 AM on the dot, with work in one hour. It was a good thing that he'd aced sleep deprivation training in deep-cover missionary class at Kentucky Mountain Bible College!
He bounced cheerfully into TGS, right on time, carrying a box filled with his gifts. He picked the locks on Ms. Lemon's door to place the specially packed chicken-wing flavored ice cream on her desk. He placed the tickets for the romantic Caribbean cruise for two he had won in a gilded envelope addressed to Mr. Griswold on top of the coffee table in Mr. Jordan's dressing room. And he slid a hand-written invitation to play golf with Senator Buckley under the door to Mr. Donaghy's office.
Everything was in place. The worst part was going to be waiting for everyone to arrive! He could hardly wait - which explained his forehead's current topography.
"Tracy!" Mr. Griswold shouted after finding his gift, tears streaming down his face. "I could just kiss you!" As much as he hated to, Kenneth turned his face away, because Mr. Griswold went on to do just that, and as much as Kenneth loved both of them, he couldn't condone such shenanigans. After that, Mr. Jordan looked even more confused than usual. Kenneth gave him a secretive wink - he would remind him later.
Ms. Lemon came to the break area, ice cream container in hand, eating her treat with a huge serving spoon. "Jenna, where did you get this! It's like my two favorite things combined in one delicious heart attack!" He didn't even have to explain anything to Miss Maroney. She accepted credit without batting an eye.
Finally, Mr. Donaghy came downstairs, his step brisk and his face flushed with unusual emotion. "Lemon, I... I don't know how to thank you enough."
Ms. Lemon took the huge spoon from her mouth, and answered, mouth still full of chicken wing ice cream, "Fa wha?"
Kenneth swooped in. "I'm sure what Ms. Lemon means is that she had to call in some favors, but she knew you'd love it."
Ms. Lemon swallowed. "Ah... yeah."
Jack held out his hand to shake hers, and pumped it vigorously, talking about all the topics of conversation he was going to discuss with the former senator.
Kenneth stepped back and enjoyed the fruits of his labor. "Oh, I'm so happy, I can hardly stand it! I—" Suddenly, he pressed his hands to his forehead. "My... my face feels so strange... I can't stop smiling... It's a mite painful..."
No one was paying Kenneth any mind at all, so enraptured were they in talking about their gifts.
"Help?" He started to feel faint. The last thing he saw before all went black was the happy gathering of all his favorite people. He contented himself with that as he fainted dead away.