Six days (at least some of which are consecutive) just prior to Christmas 1964
Day One: An evening before Christmas
A Christmas Tree Lot in Ossining
Henry, Betty, and the three kids are shopping for a tree. Glen Bishop calls to Sally. He notes that both of their mothers have remarried, and he warns Sally that her mother will probably have a baby with Henry. Bobby comes back, looking for Sally, and Glen tells them he works there. He shows them a twine-cutter he made for work.
Day Two: A weekday, possibly the next day
Allison brings Don his mail, he has her read aloud Sally’s letter to Santa. Sally knows there is no Santa and has addressed the letter to her Daddy instead. Sally wants Daddy to come home for Christmas morning, but knows he can’t, which makes Allison momentarily choke up. Don gives Allison money to buy the requested gifts plus some extras, including Beatles 45s for Sally. Allison asks about the Christmas party. Don says it will be stingy but he’ll see she gets a bonus even if it comes from his own pocket.
Freddie Rumsen comes in to see Roger. Fred declines a drink, saying he left JWT with Ponds Cold Cream as a client, implying that he and the client are both in AA. Roger hires him. Fred doesn’t want Pete Campbell anywhere near his account.
Don, Peggy, and Pete are meeting about Sugarberry when Roger brings Fred in. Peggy gives him a big hug. Don gives a warm shake, Pete a somewhat formal one. Don pours drinks, Fred again declines. Roger changes the subject when Pete tries to discuss Freddie’s drinking.
Carla answers the phone “Francis residence.” It’s Glen, calling for Sally. He gives a false name. He wants to know why they didn’t move. Sally doesn’t know but she hates living there and being reminded of her Dad. Glen assures her that one day, they’ll want to move.
Day Three: A weekday
The senior staff is sitting around a brand new conference table. Lane introduces Geoffrey Atherton, who is an old friend of Bert Cooper’s. Atherton is the head of the Motivational Research Group. His colleague, Dr. Faye Miller, hands out a psychological test as an exercise. Don leaves rather than answer the test questions. He comes out to see Joey handing Allison a sketch of herself. She asks if Don wants ice and he says yes.
Day Four: A weekday
Don wakes up to a hammering sound. His neighbor, Phoebe, in a nurse’s uniform, is hanging Christmas lights. It’s 8 a.m. She explains it’s her only available time to decorate for the St. Vincent’s staff party. Phoebe introduces herself; she already knows Don’s name. He seems not to know her but she insists he’s noticed her and flirtatiously invites him to her party. He doesn’t answer, just says he’s late for work.
Peggy and Fred are arguing about Ponds. Freddie wants an older actress to sell the product as “the choice of professionals.” Peggy wants to target younger women. Roger comes in drunk, saying he was just with the Ponds representative. Fred is alarmed and calls Cal Rutledge from Ponds right away. The conversation sounds like Fred is his sponsor in AA; they agree to go to a meeting together. Fred tells Peggy he’s leaving and tells her, condescendingly, to write up a bunch of ideas along his lines for him to submit to Don. She is incredulous.
Roger is lying down, pretty drunk, when his secretary buzzes that Lee Garner Jr. is on the phone. Roger is surprised that Garner is in town. Garner invites himself to the SCDP Christmas party, indicating that he expects it to be like in “the movies.” Roger calls Lane in, telling him they have to have a real party; they fight over money. Ultimately, Lane knows Garner has them over the barrel, and they call Joan in to re-plan the party more elaborately.
Peggy answers the door in her robe. Her boyfriend Mark is making a surprise visit. She’s happy to see him. They kiss. They argue over sex. She wants to wait. He says he wants to be her “first,” and she doesn’t correct him, but when he calls her “old-fashioned,” she says “no, I’m not.” They kiss some more, but she turns him down and suggest he leave, which he does.
Don arrives as Phoebe is cleaning up a post-party mess in the hall. He’s very drunk and struggles with his keys. She helps him into his apartment. She puts him to bed. He tries to seduce her, she’s having none of it.
Day Five: The next day
Joan is overseeing party preparation.
Fred and Peggy are meeting about Ponds. They argue again, she calls him old-fashioned. She apologizes, he leaves.
Glen phones the Francis residence. No one is home.
The party is getting started. Joey eyes Allison. Roger brings Jane a drink, she is chatting with senior staff. Pete and Trudy are going to the Bahamas for Christmas, Harry and Jennifer are going to Stowe. Don says he’s going to Acapulco. Peggy arrives with Mark. A look passes between Peggy and Pete.
Atherton, Bert Cooper, and Lane Pryce are discussing Randian ideas and the threat of Civil Rights. Faye Miller eyes Don, looking as if she feels trapped.
Joan runs in to warn them that Garner is here; they start a pre-arranged party game so that gaiety is already in progress when he arrives.
Glen and a friend break into the Francis home and start trashing the place, throwing eggs and other food around.
Joan leads a conga line through the office. Garner insist that Roger play Santa, when Roger demurs, Garner’s tone changes; it becomes an order.
The entire family arrives to see the wreckage. Henry immediately realizes it was kids who vandalized the place.
Lane reveals that his wife and son are in Florida. Roger comes in wearing a Santa suit. Lee mocks him and grabs at Jane. Roger gives Garner a Polaroid. Don wishes Peggy a Merry Christmas in a ‘goodbye’ tone, calling her “Sweetheart,” and steps out.
Bobby finds eggs in his bed. Sally sees her room is fine. She finds Glen’s twine cutter on her pillow and smiles at the gift.
Dr. Miller follows Don into his office, where he is packing to leave. She confronts him about walking out of her presentation. He ends up impressed with her but she declines his dinner invitation.
In the party, Garner forces everyone to sit on Santa’s lap for a photograph.
Don arrives home, quite drunk, and realizes he doesn’t have his keys. Phoebe doesn’t answer a knock. He calls Allison from a phone booth and she finds his keys on his office floor. She tells Joey and some others she will meet them in an hour at their next destination.
Don is sitting in front of his door, nodding off, when Allison arrives. He has a bottle in his hand. She lets him in and gets him aspirin. He refuses food and sits on the couch, still largely out of it. She starts to leave, he pulls her to him and kisses her. She pulls away and says “don’t.” He says “come on.” She pulls away again, then pulls him to her.
Sally looks out the window, then gets in bed, takes the twine cutter from under her pillow, and holds it.
Don and Allison have finished making love, it was apparently quite quick. She gets up to go. He says “are you sure?” She kisses him goodbye and leaves.
Day Six: The next day
Peggy arrives, stepping over the party detritus, and finds Freddie in her office. They apologize to each other. She discusses her boyfriend with him, soliciting his advise. He tells her she shouldn’t have sex with Mark if she wants to marry him, because she’ll lose his respect, but if she isn’t sure, she shouldn’t lead him on.
Don arrives and sees Allison already at her desk. He goes around the other way to avoid seeing her right off. After greeting Roger, he says good morning to Allison. She’s flustered, he calls her into his office. The wrapped presents for his children are on his desk. He doesn’t want her to close the door. He thanks her for bringing the keys and for her kindness, as if nothing else had happened. He hands her a card with her bonus in it. She’s utterly deflated but keeps her cool, going to her desk, opening the card, which is impersonal, and beginning to type.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus begins to play.
Peggy and Mark are in bed together, having just made love for the first time. Peggy’s expression is distant and blank.
Don leaves the office carrying the gifts.