Sweet Christmas!

Homes: Sweet Christmas!

Sweet Christmas!

Story: Bridget Broihahn

Photos: Rick Danzl

When exploring the Christmas wonder that is the Rix family home, one gets the feeling that they are participating in a tour of happy memories made by a couple that has been together for over 50 years. At every turn there is another memory that is held by each ornament, Santa Claus, Nutcracker and Christmas tree.

Joe and Cathy Rix have fun decorating for the holidays in their southwest Champaign home. They like to travel, both in the States and abroad. When the Rix couple travels, they like to pick up mementos from wherever they visit, from Aruba to Germany to Casey, Illinois.

Cathy and Joe met as kids in Marseilles, Illinois.

“We were high school sweethearts,” Cathy Rix said in her festive holiday kitchen. A true DIY-er, Cathy had just completed painting her kitchen cabinets right before the Christmas decorating commenced. Among the decorations were delec­table holiday treats for visitors and holiday guests. The Rixes were very excited as they were expect­ing their grandchildren to visit for the holidays, and their home was ready for a holiday dream!

Joe Rix worked for Illinois Power for many years. The couple relocated to the Champaign area as a result. They have a son, Mark Rix, and a daughter, Lisa Rix Vincent. Joe Rix was also a very successful sports official for many years. In fact, the At Home in Central staff recognized him from being in The News-Gazette many, many times! Now that the couple has slowed down, career-wise, they still like to explore the world.

“Joe has found Christmas pieces at restaurant gift shops that he stops by after games that he will bring home to add to the collection,” Cathy Rix said.

“Yeah, I stopped by Richard’s Farm Restaurant. They have good food and are located in Casey. The restaurant is a converted 1930s barn decorated with antique farm tools,” Joe Rix said with a smile. “I bought a Santa to bring home.”

“We really like to pick up ornaments and other Christmas items from our travels,” Cathy Rix said.

As she walked around her home, Cathy Rix pointed out memories, as well as decorations for Christmas. It was more than a tour of a home; it was the story of a happy family.

“Here’s the ceramic tree my mother made,” she said. “And this tablecloth is from Germany. This chair is from my mother and father. It was made in 1941”

She walked into another room. She pointed to a festive tree that was very colorful and bold. “My brother-in-law, Mike, makes a certain ornament every year for us.”

And yet, even though the grandchildren would be visiting, and the holiday celebrating would be fill­ing the air in the Champaign home, by Christmas, Joe and Cathy Rix would be at the beach.

“Read the book, ‘Skipping Christmas’ by John Grisham,” Cathy Rix said with a smile.

That book, ‘Skipping Christmas’ a comedy, that was on the bestsellers list for months and was made into a movie, talked about how the frenzy of Christmas can be a little over-the-top. The frenzied couple decides to travel the year their only child decides not to come home. The point made in the book is to be happy and to make memories, just like the Rix family has done for many, many years.

“We wish everyone a happy holiday,” Cathy Rix said, as she passed a tray of Christmas cookies.