A person looking for a unique and useful Christmas gift for a special person might wander into The Champion Store to find a handmade bird feeder. It is made of cedar and hardware cloth with a hasp and harrow closure on its hinged cover. One old Champion has been using one of these feeders since 2013. He says it has held up well, it is easy to fill, and the birds really like it. Well worth $35.00. It was made by Tim Scrivner who lives over at Vera Cruz and who has been a strong supporter of the Skyline School over the years. As a matter of fact, all proceeds from the sale of this feeder will go to the Skyline School! He has also donated a cedar bluebird house. It is pretty enough to use as inside décor, but it will last for years out on a fence post somewhere. Tim asked if we were still collecting Always Save, Best Choice and Box Tops for Education bar codes and coupons. Absolutely! Send them by mail to Skyline School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717, or drop them by during school hours. There is a collection spot for them at the Champion Store as well. You could bring them with you to the Christmas program which will be on a Tuesday this year–Tuesday the 17th. It will be another of Ms. Casper’s great productions and an experience the kids will not forget. Whether or not you have children or grandchildren in school, it is a joy to watch the youngsters perform. Christmas goes all the way back to our own childhoods, quite a way back for some of us. Memories are in the making.

Ava Bears

Riley Bethurem lit up the internet on Saturday night, via her Great Aunt Linda Clark, when she opened the championship day of the Tri-State Basketball Tournament in Willard with a splendid acapella rendition of the National Anthem. She is the great granddaughter of Joann and Wayne Anderson. Music flows through this family. Riley has a beautiful voice. Aunt Linda said, “We’re all so proud of Riley, but I just know how proud Daddy and Brenda would have been of her singing like that. I know Daddy would have told her before she went up to sing…the same thing he would always tell Brenda and me….’You walk up there, lay your ears back and sing!’ It made it sound like he was talking about one of his old hound dogs, but we knew what he meant and was wanting us to do.” As for Grandma Linda, she also has plenty of reasons for pride. Her granddaughter, Maddie is a cheerleader for the Ava Bears. Linda and Gene and Granny Grunt were all up at the Show Me Bowl in Columbia, along with much of Ava, on December 7th, rooting for Maddie and the Bears. Later, Linda posted on her Facebook page, “I can’t say enough about this group of young people. They have played their hearts out all season. They have set such a good example on and off of the field. They have won and then finally lost their last game at State with such integrity.” She included a photo and said, “….they were lined up to receive their Second Place at State award, and the large group of Ava Bears fans applauded them like they had just won the Super Bowl. However, when I was the proudest of our team was when the other team was getting their award for First Place and their small group of fans wasn’t applauding very loud, and our players turned around and tried to stir up more applause for them. They did this after such a lopsided game and being beat by a team with players that were way bigger and had been recruited to their private school from the whole St. Louis area with a population many times over the size of Ava or even our whole county. Our team still respected them and gave them their dues. That, my friends, is class! I am so proud of our Ava Bears!” Well said.

Greta Thunberg

Adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, is also showing real class. She was part of the 500,000 (half a million!) activists meeting in Madrid on Friday to discuss the condition of our climate. She speaks as well as Riley sings. We are proud.

While a bunch of fans were up in Columbia on December 7th, another bunch was over in Springfield cooking up a surprise 85th birthday party for Jean Farbin. Wander into Jean’s Health Way in downtown Ava to find out if it was really a surprise and find out how much fun was had. Jean has been meeting our health food needs in Ava for a long time. She has fans and knows she is appreciated.

We have a chance on December 7th every year to remember that date in 1941, ‘that will live in infamy,’ and to express appreciation to our World War II Veterans. They have been dubbed ‘The Greatest Generation,’ rightly so. We are losing more of them every day, and a great loss it is. Still, all our Veterans have stepped up to the challenge–putting their Country before themselves. Would that were a concept embraced by all our public servants and elected officials.

There is something about the air quality when it is humid and warm (50’s) in the winter, after all the leaves are down, that makes every distant vista spectacular and every near landscape inviting. The winter colors are subtle like old oil paintings, but vibrant in their depth and breadth. Now that we do not have to take our film to the drug store to get it developed, we can save hundreds, thousands of photos on little SD memory cards. It gives us the freedom to take as many pictures as we like. Of course, sometimes it is good to leave your camera behind and just stand there and see that everything is beautiful in its own way. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek any time for a visual delight. On the last Wednesday before Christmas, the 18th, Champions will gather and welcome visitors to a mid-day Christmas celebration. It will be a potluck with music and the chance to meet old friends and make new ones. Maybe there will be someone who can fill in the blanks about Homer Hale who used to carry his fiddle in a flour sack and could play anything if you could whistle or hum a few bars of it. Friday the 20th will be the day Douglas County Health nurse, Shelby, will be at the store from 8:30 to 10:00 in the morning taking our blood pressure in Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!