This issue, Q-Notes rolls out its annual holiday gift guide. Most likely, we’ll include some treats in the Dec. 13 issue as well. It was hard this year to come up with some sort of gift guide that actually takes into account the world of trouble we’re all facing nowadays. With the slumping economy, people out of work and others buckling down on almost all their extraneous expenses, holiday shopping and entertainment is definitely taking a hit.

You might notice, if you remember our gift guides from years past, that this issue is slightly smaller than in days gone by. We’re not immune to the economy’s woes either. When retail businesses suffer because no one is shopping, they really don’t have the extra money to advertise in a gift guide.

All of these financial worries got me thinking, especially after a reader left this comment on our website: “My wish list is employment. I pray for a job every day as I begin searching for work. I have been layed off since June…so little B.S. like the latest book, game, car, etc. doesn’t really matter.

“I can get my holiday feast from the Piggly Wiggly for $40 and it tastes great, but being out of work for months on end, having to decide which bill collector you are going to hear from this week and basic survival issues are all I have time for.”

In the most difficult of times it’s hard not to feel tempted to say it. Go ahead, you know you want to. “Bah humbug!”

But, like Scrooge, we might all learn a few valuable lessons this holiday season. Perhaps Americans are ready for a Christmas without all the trimmings. Perhaps we’re ready for a holiday that actually has meaning, instead of financial worth.

The “reason for the season” has kind of been lost over the years. People get so busy, so wrapped up in the moment. Credit card swipe here, check-writing there. Walmart is not a place to be spending your Christmas Eve — no matter how much money you put in that darned red, Salvation Army bucket outside.

In my own family, I’ll be dealing with a most difficult and painful set of circumstances. This Christmas will be unlike any other — a sad and painful reminder of last year. But I know that the moment I get done with my drive back up to Winston-Salem and I’m able to see my family, almost all will feel better. The pain won’t disappear, but at least I’ll be with people I love.

And, no matter how hard my family’s got it, I’m fully aware we’re not even close to the bottom. Each and every holiday season I always tire myself thinking of the countless millions of families who are stuck in the cold, homeless or without proper food or clothing. Basic needs for survival are on these folks’ gift lists, not new TVs and other electronics.

I know things are tight. I know money seems to be the most elusive thing ever right now. But, if you’ve got that extra $5 or $10, give it to a group that’ll surely make some sort of difference this year.
I hope, as we enter this most holy season, that we might all remember the true meaning of it. Family. Love. Cheer. I can do without the big presents. A holiday gift guide — it isn’t of much use to me. There’s more to the holidays than shopping and gift-wrapping. Maybe we just need to take more time to find it, sense it, live it and breathe it.

Joint reporting
On a completely unrelated note, I’m glad to say that all three of the Carolinas’ major LGBT news-media outlets teamed up like never before to offer joint news coverage of the several Carolinas Prop. 8 protests on Nov. 15. Originally organized by yours truly, reports were compiled by Out in Asheville’s Lin Orndorf and Porscha Yount,’s Bambi Weavil and me on our joint reporting blog at

I’d like to publicly thank Lin, Porscha and Bambi for taking the time to come together with Q-Notes in this very exciting, movement-changing and inspiring event. I’m looking forward to ways we might be able to cooperate and jointly serve the Carolinas’ LGBT communities in the future.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.