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See & Do 

DECEMBER 25 - THURSDAY
It's Christmas Day, the king daddy of all Western holidays. Ostensibly the birthday of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, over the years the holiday has morphed into a wide variety of celebrations all over the world including our own all-American, tinseled and well-lit consumerthon. It sounds cynical, but we're certainly not the only ones who've noticed a disparity between the message of Christianity's founder and the materialist overkill the day often brings. On the other hand, no matter what, there's nothing like a big national holiday, and it's fun giving presents to those you love, so however you celebrate Christmas (if you celebrate it), as the song says, "let your hearts be light." (Grooms)

DECEMBER 27 - SATURDAY
It's not enough anymore to insert the sponsor's name before the name of your college football bowl game, a la Nokia Sugar Bowl or Fed Ex Orange Bowl. Newer bowl games go for the commercial jugular and name the whole thing after the sponsor -- which is why today at 11am, Ericsson Stadium will host the Continental Tire Bowl -- kind of tugs at your heartstrings, doesn't it? The CTB's inaugural game last year was a sellout with more than 73,000 fans, but the betting line is 2-1 they don't draw that many this year. Why? The University of Pittsburgh, whose team is slated to play last year's winner, the University of Virginia, is mad that they didn't make a bigger bowl game and ticket sales have suffered. In any case, those watching the game -- which will be televised by ESPN2 -- will get to see the guy who probably should have won the Heisman Trophy, Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Tickets range from $27.50 to $67.50. That's sixty-seven dollars to watch a team that finished third in the Big East Conference play one that finished fourth in the ACC. It's a strange world sometimes. Tickets are available through TicketMaster at 704-522-6500, at the Ericsson box office, or by calling the Continental Tire Bowl ticket office at 704-295-1180. (Grooms)

A benefit charity event titled Be Yourself, Wear It! An Evening With P.L. Hats will be held from 7pm until 1am tonight at the Neighborhood Theatre. Former Charlottean Rand Crook, who brought his acclaimed feature film Chalk to town four years ago, is helping to spearhead this night of movies, music and art. Crook will screen his short films Revelations 1-3 and The Null Roosevelt Tragedy (the latter made while he was at West Charlotte High School around 1978). Musical guests presently scheduled to perform include Boo Reiners, Billy Goodrum and The DissCounts, while artwork by Karen Jones will be on display. Performance artist/juggler Steve Langley (aka "Fettucini Alfredo") will also be on hand to perform magic tricks for the kids. Admission is $7-$10 on a sliding scale, plus canned food; all proceeds benefit The Second Harvest Food Bank. For more information, go online to http://neighborhoodtheatre.com or call 704-358-9298. (Brunson)

The Charlotte Checkers have a few homegames in a row starting tonight against the Augusta Lynx at 7:30pm. The Checkers host the Greensboro Generals, the #2 team in our division, on Tuesday at 7pm and play the Florence Pride on Wednesday at 6pm. Don't forget, beers are just $1 on "Wet Your Whistle Wednesdays" -- what a way to start off your New Year's celebrations. All games will be played at Cricket Arena. Tickets cost $7-$20 and may be purchased at the Cricket Arena Box Office or by calling 704-522-6500. (Grossman)

DECEMBER 31 - WEDNESDAY
If you're a fan, how much incentive do you need to see this show? First, it's on New Year's Eve. Second, The Derek Trucks Band have a new disc out, the jazz-flavored Soul Serenade. And, third, the nephew of original Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks is a top-notch guitarist in his own right and since 1999 an integral part of the Allmans. With his own group, Trucks and Co. concentrate more on blending jazz, rock, blues, Latin, Eastern Indian, and other world music into the sound that now defines the DTB. The show is at the Visulite, with openers Scrapomatic (DTB singer Mike Mattison's side project). Tickets are $35 for all the festivities. Call 704-358-9200 for details. (Schacht)

If you don't have New Year's plans yet or just need to kill time before dinner or in between bars, stop by the Downtown Countdown 2003! on the square between Trade and Tryon Streets from 9pm-1am. Enjoy cold beer and music minus the outrageous New Year's cover charges. Vendors will offer drinks, funnel cakes and all the traditional street fair grub. No New Year's Eve countdown would be complete without fireworks, which start at midnight. Visit www.holidaysinthecity.org for details. (Grossman)

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