A Tom and Jerry Christmas: It's hard out there for a Grinch


By Justin Juul

Oh yes, it's all real

Can we all just take a minute and stop pretending that the holidays are fun? I mean sure, there are more opportunities to drink before nightfall, and sure, we’ll probably all get new iPhones. But come on! Christmas is like the most annoying time of the year. Not only do we have to spend cash on other people, but we also have to donate an incalculable amount of our free time to activities we’d normally avoid. Forget about going to the gym or watching a movie; the next two weeks are gonna be nothing but awkward work parties, shopping, cooking, and listening to music that makes you remember your childhood. Not fun.

It’s easy to get depressed over the holidays for these reasons, but it’s always better to just bear through the ordeal with a smile. After all, there are millions of people with problems far worse than our own. Starving children, homeless people, and the housebound elderly come to mind, but that’s not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about the one group of people to whom the holidays are a true burden: obsessive decorators.

Think about it. The holidays may mean that you and I will have to throw some sparkly shit on a dead tree or light some candles, but that’s nothing compared to what folks like Tom Lawson and Jerry Goldstein (AKA the cutest couple in the world), have to deal with. These guys spend weeks preparing their holiday display and the cost is through the roof. I mean, dude, look at that tree! The lights alone must cost thousands of dollars to operate. And just imagine how much effort it takes to get all that stuff up there? It’s a wonder that Tom and Jerry even bother with the holidays, but they always have and they always will.

Why? Well, that’s a good question. The Guardian stopped by the Goldstein/Lawson residence (3650 21st ST) a few times this week to get the scoop.

Tom and Jerry, in the spirit

SFBG: That’s a helluva set up you got there. How long have you been doing this?
Tom Lawson: Oh, I guess it’s been almost 20 years now.

SFBG: Jesus, man. That’s a long time. Has it always been this big?
Lawson: Oh, it’s always been on the bigger side of things, but it’s definitely grown over the years. It’s gotten pretty out of hand, actually.

SFBG: How much does something like this cost?
Lawson: Well, we don’t discuss things like that, but I will say it’s not cheap. I mean look, that crane alone costs $3,000. And then I gotta hire a Santa Clause and everything. And then of course, there’s my crew. They’ve been with me forever.

SFBG: Are they like your personal elves or something?
Lawson: Ha! Don’t let them hear you say that. No, I’m a property manager and this is my work crew. When Christmas rolls around we stop working regular jobs and we put all of our energy into this.

SFBG: Why?

Lawson: Well, when my partner and I did it the first time, everyone in the neighborhood was like, “Oh we love it, blah, blah, blah.”

SFBG: So you had to keep doing it?
Lawson: Yeah. So every year we just go bigger and bigger, but we never stray from the original idea. This is supposed to look like the average Christmas tree in the average home, with all different colored ornaments and decorations. And then of course there are the presents. They’re the most important part and they’re all scaled to fit under a five and half foot tree. I mean, if you step back you can see that this whole arrangement is just a large version of the usual Christmas setup.

SFBG: What do you do when you’re not decorating your house for Christmas?
Lawson: Well, like I said, I manage properties and my partner, Jerry, he’s a doctor. That’s why those stockings say Tom and Jerry, by the way. The kid who gave us that idea is through college now. That’s how long we’ve been doing this.

SFBG: And where is Jerry?
Lawson: Jerry’s at work right now trying to figure out how to pay for all of this.


SFBG: Are the holidays your favorite time of the year?
Lawson: Ahhhh, I don’t know about that. It’s an awful lot of work. We were much younger when we started this tradition, you know. I’m sixty-five now and I’m not sure how much longer I can do it. But the kids enjoy it so much I can’t really stop. I mean, schools actually take field trips here to see the giant presents. That’s all kids want is more presents!

SFBG: How about you? What do you want for Christmas?
Lawson: Ha! I want this to be over with.

Tom and Jerry’s Holiday display is meant to embody the Holiday Spirit for all who choose to view it and is not of any religious or sectarian view. It will be up from now until December 24th. Stop by 3650 21st ST for photos and candy canes from 7:00 – 10:30 pm and please, don’t honk your horn!

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