The scant rain that has graced Champion in recent days together with a little fog and mist has worked its magic on our brittle brown fields.  They now have the softest hint of a green underlayment which gives rise to a little optimism.  Even in this stressed state, distant vistas are magnificent as the hills roll and fold in upon each other with their subtle shades of beige and gold.  The speculation was that we would have snow before real rain played out, though there was not much snow either.  Holiday decorations along the highways and country lanes are a treat for nighttime travelers.  Some folks put a lot of money, time and thought into their displays.  Others just run the same string of lights they have used for years along their porch rails and posts.  The effect is dazzling on a dark night drive.  A cold Christmas Day did not diminish the joy of family and friends together feasting and relishing fine company.  Who knows what wonders the New Year will bring!

Bridge construction over Fox Creek in near East Champion goes on at full bore.  Concrete trucks had pumped 12 yards on Tuesday and it looks like the 32 or so yards for the next phase arrived on Thursday.  Construction on the downstream side is underway and locals will be interested to see just how the bridge builders proceed.  The new tinhorn shines in the sun.  It is about 4 feet in diameter.  FEMA wants the bridge to be just the way it was before the flood, so the additional two tinhorns that it would take to adequately handle a deluge will go wanting.  The East Champion By-Pass will disappear with the opening of the bridge.  The information that has come to light so far about Dave Simpson is that he was just a very nice man.  His family made a substantial donation toward the construction of the last bridge over Fox Creek and the little stone to acknowledge the good life of their loved one stands yet.  He is buried up at Denlow.  TCN will be glad for any more information about him. or TCN Rt. 72 Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.

Wednesday’s gathering at the Historic Emporium over on the north side of the Square in downtown Champion was festive as neighbors came in with cakes and pies and all kinds of finger foods for a Christmas celebration.  The table was spread and regular visitors were joined by those seldom seen for some quality visiting and yarn spinning.  There were Upshaws galore, Kriders, Smiths, Dooms, Bishops, Lees, Leaches, Partells, Johns, Hutchisons, Moses, Von Altendorfs, Barnharts and others.  The food was good and the fellowship sweet.  Next time the talk will all be about New Year’s Resolutions.  Here are some that Woody Guthrie wrote January 1, 1943:  “1. Work more and better   2. Work by a schedule   3. Wash teeth if any  4.  Shave   5. Take bath   6. Eat good—fruit-vegetables-milk   7. Drink very scant if any   8. Write a song a day   9. Wear clean clothes—look good   10. Shine shoes 11.  Change socks  12. Change bed clothes often   13. Read lots good books   14. Listen to radio a lot  15. Learn people better  16. Keep ranch clean   17. Don’t get lonesome   18. Stay glad   19. Keep hoping machine running   20. Dream good   21. Bank all extra money   22. Save dough   23. Have company but don’t waste time   24. Send Mary and kids money   25. Play and sing good   26. Dance better   27. Help win war—beat fascism   28. Love Mama 29. Love Papa   30. Love Pete   31. Love everybody   32. Make up your mind   33. Wake up and fight.”  Some of Woody’s most famous songs are “This Land Is Your Land” and “The Lonesome Road Blues.”  An excellent resolution that seems to encompass much of what Woody had to say is, “Just try to be a little nicer to people.”

Our rural mail carriers, really all the post office workers, are under pressure this time of the year.  The added parcels and Christmas cards bring joy to the recipients and maybe headaches to the folks doing the delivering, but they do not complain.  If you have not left some cookies in the mail box or a thank you note for their hard work and dependability, there is still time before the year is over.  Thank you Karen Ross!  We are grateful for Karen and for the U.S. Postal Service.  Many an Old Champion is also grateful to Franklin D. Roosevelt who signed the Social Security Act in 1935.  By 1937, 53,236 people received a total of $1,278,000.  In 2017 there are nearly 62 million Americans who will receive approximately $995 billion in Social security benefits.  Somewhere along the line, about LBJ’s time, the government started borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund.  Now they owe ‘us’ about $2 trillion.  It is all very interesting and bears some study.  Everyone will have his own opinion about tax reform.  These are exciting times and very reminiscent of about 1928.  Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” again on Christmas Eve it was as heartwarming as it first was back in 1947—a very sweet film.  An Old Champion pointed out that while the generosity of the fine citizens of Bedford Falls kept George Bailey from scandal and prison, Mr. Potter did not return the $8,000.00.  Sometimes a shenanigan might escape notice when we are distracted.  86 45.  Look at old Mr. Potter for a good example of bad behavior.

A card from Minnie J. Henson informs that Royce Henson had hip surgery on December 13th.  It was their 59th Wedding anniversary.  Jody said that it was their gift to each other.  He is working hard three hours a day in a rehabilitation hospital and may be able to come home in time to celebrate the New Year.  It all started back on November 20th.  Royce had been mulching leaves all afternoon and he fell in the driveway as he got off the mower.  He did not know his hip was broken.  “Even cycled a week later…then got worse.”  She said that it was his first time in the hospital overnight at age 84.  Royce is a tough customer—it must be his Champion upbringing.  Thursday evening found the crowd singing at Vanzant.  The birthday card said, “Where the deer and the antelope play, they play, ‘Happy Birthday, dear Jerry!’” and so it was.  The 27th is the special day for Boy Howdy of the Howdy Boys.  The 29th is the birthday of Skyline fifth grade student Logan Hill.  We remember that lovely Joann Anderson celebrates on Christmas Day and The General on 31st or sometime or all the time.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for some pleasant socializing and the opportunity to end the old year or begin the New Year with optimism.  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot” in Champion?—Looking on the Bright Side!