Little People, Window Surfing, and Other Holiday Rituals

Tom Matlack struggles to get into the holiday spirit.

Isn’t October a bit early for the Salvation Army bell to be ringing on every corner?

Enough with the Christmas carols at CVS.

I get it.

We are in the red zone—the 90-day buying horizon on the American orgy of consumerism.

But can’t a guy buy a toothbrush in peace?


I went to two Halloween parties this year. At one, there was a middle-aged white male DJ, and at the other there was a young African-American female DJ. I really don’t have to tell you which one had the place jumping in a frenzy of dancing body parts.

Is that wrong to say?


So let me get this straight: Thanksgiving is when we sat down with the Native Americans (13 pilgrims and 90 true Americans the first time around, to be exact) to feast on the first harvest in the New World—just before wiping them out with guns and smallpox, stealing their land, and confining them to reservations, only to give them a handful of casinos a few centuries later?

And I thought Joe Pa was a bit hypocritical.


Can someone explain to me why it’s fun to go to Target to wait in line at 4 AM on Black Friday? The plastic toys made in Hong Kong are still going to be there even after the masses have gone home. Hell, in my basement I’ve got a whole graveyard of toys with missing parts that my 6-year-old has demolished. Instead of crushing each other like the Who in Cincinnati, maybe we should start some huge online swap meet where we trade kids’ toys and clothes.

Nah, there’s no money in that for Wall Street. Sorry. Dumb idea.


I am obsessed with little people. Santa has his elves, right? So what’s the big deal if you have elves at a Christmas party? Chelsea has Chuy, her Mexican “nugget,” sitting in his little corner to provide commentary. I just really want to get the elf’s-eye view of the holiday. I’ve researched it; little people are out of work in record numbers. Can’t I just hire a few for our party?


Can we talk about food, booze, and inappropriate sexual advances, just for a second? Red velvet and random evergreen branches do not give you license to enter a food coma and/or tequila blackout in order to strip naked at the office party (like Frank the Tank in Old School) in front of that special girl you never had the guts to talk to.


Moms and dads, you need to understand that there is one thing worse than being a Jewish kid at Christmas: being a Christian kid with a birthday that falls too near Christmas so everyone on the face of the planet sees it as a giant two-for-one sale. I’m a December 16 baby (middle name “Noel”), and my bitter temperament can be traced directly to getting screwed year after year after year.

No sex during the month of March, Mom and Dad. I know it’s cold. I know you’re horny as a pair of toads, but abstinence is the best policy. It’s the only way you aren’t going to have a kid who grows up to be a scarred, angry, and rude bastard like me.


If you happen to arrive at my front door during the holiday season and a 6′ 3″ transvestite offers you the choice of a shot of cuervo or a french kiss, for goodness sales go for the kiss. It’s safer and a lot more fun.


I am hip to the birth of Christ. Really, I am. I remember the first time my dad explained the whole thing to me, about the angels, the wise men, Mary and Joseph. What a cool story—or, if you prefer, “transformational religious event.” I just had trouble, as a kid, connecting the dots to the North Pole workroom.

In fact, I’m still at a loss to see the familial connection between Frosty and Jesus.


If Christmas is about the virgin birth and birth of the baby Jesus, and it’s about kids all around the world waking up to a tree and gifts…how about we remember how many kids have been sexually abused in the name of Christ? The biggest gift in the world would be to rededicate ourselves to making the world safe for our innocents in the face of sexual predation.


This whole idea that we have to celebrate secondary Jewish, African, and Muslim holidays to offset the Christian bias in our schools is maddening.

Let’s just rename December 25 “Capitalism Day,” and then we can all sing songs about animals flying through the air and teach our kids to expect piles of stuff they don’t need. It’s our common religion, after all.


When my kids were six months old and two years old—they are now in high school—their mom and I separated, so I didn’t see my kids that Christmas Day or on plenty of others. It kind of took the magic out of it for me, so I had time to look at the holiday from the outside in.

What I saw was a lot of miserable people they were trying so hard to live up to the Hollywood image of what a family on Christmas morning should look like—and failing miserably.

I’m thinking that for the sake of divorced kids and parents everywhere, we should just cancel the whole mess. Send everybody on mission to Haiti or volunteer in a homeless shelter.

For years I’ve been celebrating Christmas on days other than the 25th. Makes you realize just how Jim Jones the thing is.


Please don’t ask me to be happy about the Christmas sham. It all makes me depressed—and all the more because people look at me like I’m the one who’s insane when I say that out loud. It’s a time of year filled with pressure, expectations, and some sense that we all should be something that we are not.


New Year’s. Now there’s a holiday for an alcoholic to sink his teeth into. I still fondly remember the year I had just turned 20 and went to Manhattan with my best friends in the world, only to be launched through a plate glass window somewhere in Midtown. Luckily for me it was subzero out, and my winter coat saved me from bleeding to death. But I still have scars on both hands, reminding me of that epic night when I took my gloves off to throw a punch, only for the bastard to push me instead of fighting fair.


And for God’s sake, don’t show up at my AA meeting on January 2.

It’s so cliché.

main: soldon / flickr

inset: caitlinator / flickr

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. I laughed, winced, and was wistful all at the same time.

    Five years ago, this week, I spent Thanksgiving, alone, in the Keys :

    It gave me perspective on the Holiday season that I don’t believe I will ever lose. I was going thru the worst time of my life – divorce – sudden death of several family members – yet I decided that was the son of a bitch everyone thought.

    I’m remarried with 3 daughters, 15, 8, 7. The holidays are for them. I don’t care if I get anything. I eat my beloved pumpkin pie. I gain my ten or so pounds. I smile thru the family bullcrap, and watch my kids’ faces light on on December 25th.

  2. Maria Pawlowska says:

    What can I say – you nailed it!

  3. That you for this. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. The stoic cynicism of it all beats eggnog any day.

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