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The Totally Non-Denominational Winter Holiday Spectacular 

The Creative Loafing Holiday Guide 2004

You think your family's tough to shop for? Let me tell you about the Mixon-Matches. Die-hard Republican Rick Mixon and his progressive ex-attorney wife, Mary Match, preside over a dauntingly eclectic brood that includes Rick's aging-hippie mother, Sylvia; teenage son Chris, an iPod-addicted technophile; daughter Lily, whose crunchy quotient is off the charts now that she's back from college; youngest son Joey, the 10-year-old who somehow always gets overlooked; gay Uncle Robert, whose life seemed charmed till he saw the 2004 election results; and Rick's high-maintenance mistress, Sheila.

Yes, your own clan may be a little less -- or a lot more -- eclectic than the Mixon-Matches. Either way, some of our gift recommendations in this issue might be the perfect match for your own gift list, as well as for one of the Mixon-Matches. And if not, you can always follow through with your original idea for the holidays -- fruitcakes for everyone!

The M-M's aren't the only players in this, CL's first Holiday Guide, aka The Totally Non-Denominational Winter Holiday Spectacular. You'll also find Max Linsky recalling his family's inter-denominational holiday rites, and our regular writers and critics offer gift ideas for lovers of the arts, food, film and music. And if you're on a tight budget, you'll appreciate Tim Davis' great tips on how to find Christmas gifts at thrift stores; and Joe Bardi tells the Halo 2-deprived about the other video games out there this season. On top of that, we've compiled a collection of great volunteer opportunities for a plethora of hard-working local organizations. And, beginning with this issue and continuing through the next several weeks, our unflagging events editor Samir Shukla will list every parade, tree lighting, Chanukah party and Messiah sing-along he can fit into our pages. In addition, you can find lots of goodies in our special Holiday Gift Guide advertising section.

So, whether you've been bah-humbugging since Halloween or you began decorating the tree right after Labor Day, there's bound to be something you can use in our Holiday Guide. Have a great time, and a great holiday season! --John Grooms

Dad, Rick Mixon: A curmudgeonly SUV-driving, Republican-voting, golf-playing, cigar-smoking sports fan who distresses on the john with the NYT sports section in one hand and glass of scotch, neat, in the other.
Mom, Mary Match: A conservative, hyper-domestic African-American heavily involved in civic work, and whose crowning achievement at last year's holiday meal was the tabletop centerpiece she created out of tampon applicators, glitter glue and dryer lint.
Grandma, Sylvia Mixon: A dope-smoking, tequila-drinking, ethnically ambiguous feminist who really was at Woodstock. She likes to regale the family with stories about the time she snuck backstage at a Who concert and wiped Keith Moon's brow as he puked in a garbage can.
Big Brother Chris: Hip-hop-loving technophile who once spent a week trying to find the iPod he'd pocketed in his elephant-leg cargo pants.
Sister Lily: An outdoorsy vegan garage rocker into body modification. If you've ever heard of the band, she wouldn't be caught dead listening to it.
Little Brother Joey: Your basic little kid, just don't leave a pack of matches lying around.
Gay Uncle Robert: Dad's younger brother, a club-hopping, Jessica Simpson-loving gym rat. OK, so he fits a stereotype. It's not his fault he exercises, dresses well, makes lots of money as a stockbroker, and dances till the wee ones at Velocity.
Dad's Mistress, Sheila DeWinter: Surgically enhanced, Fendi-bag carrying party gal who met Dad on match.com. Her fake tan gives her a disturbing orange glow, and her nails could rip out a man's tongue.
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