Merrill Lynch has added itself to a most undesirable list of firms that are toeing the no money, no holiday party line this year. No company-wide memo has been sent out yet, but managers were informed late last week that the bank is indeed going the way of Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Lazard et al. Obviously there are a few theories for this terribly disappointing news, all of which we reject as acceptable reasons for being stripped of even the possibility of an electric moment between a drunk John Thain and a uninvited but crashing Stan O'Neal who's known to get pawsy around mistletoe. A. It has to do with the firing (and hiring) of a bunch of employees. B. All party funds were spent on Peter Kraus's exit package. C. The whole being bought by Bank of America thing. None of these work for us, but most especially the last. Now is the exact moment they should be blowing every last penny on something huge before turning things over to Ken Lewis and saying 'your problem,' including clean up duty, and the task of scrubbing the vomit out of John Thain's party dress.