The house was packed for the 2018 Skyline School Christmas program.  It is great to see the community come out on a rainy, muddy and foggy evening to support these great young people.  The National Anthem played on xylophones and drums was a treat and once again, Mrs. Casper and Mrs. Downs have done a terrific job orchestrating the evening.  One of the lovely things about these concerts, apart from the adorable children being adorable, is the look on the faces of parents and grandparents as their little ones perform.  Those looks of pure adoration make every face, young and old, beautiful to see.  Andrea Strong won the Christmas Keep You Busy Basket raffle the preschool through 2nd grade students held.  They now have enough money for their fieldtrip to Wonders of Wildlife.  Teachers and staff will not have as much time off during the winter break as the students will have.  They will be getting things ready to start another great year in our important little school.  Thank you.

Folks at Vanzant will be singing “Happy Birthday” to Mary Goolsby on the 20th.  Destiny Surface, sixth grader, and Rachel Prock, first grader, also celebrate birthdays that day.  The 21st is the winter solstice and the birthday of first grader Paige Jonas, as well as a favorite fiddler, Jerry Wagner, who will also be serenaded at Vanzant Thursday.  Pre-kindergarten’s Chase Cauthron will enjoy the 23rd for his birthday along with his dad, David Cauthron, Sharon Sikes and Butch Stone.  Happy Birthday all you Champions!

Determined equestrians made a roundtrip excursion from Veracruz to Champion on Saturday.  They were not on a Coddiwomple, because, while they traveled in a purposeful manner, their destination was not at all vague.  Somewhere along the trail they were joined by a gritty pooch, call him Champ, who protected them and their horses from harassing farm dogs all along the way.  Andrew Hardin and Jeff and Casey Alcorn had a fine day for their jaunt and a pleasant lunch at Champion.  A variety of circumstances kept away a number of others who had wanted to be on the ride, so Andrew, Jeff and Casey, along with Champ, the fierce road dog, had extra fun and enjoyment to compensate for their missing friends.  It is a kindness, a gift, if you will, to have extra fun for our special friends who, for whatever reason, cannot get their fun together at this time.  They will appreciate it.  Meanwhile, a good dog is a treasure.  Friends from over west of Ava have just lost their old friend Tawney.  She was the family dog for 15 years and, with her dog friend Jazz, ran freely over the family acres, “harassing wildlife and decimating the armadillo population”—a happy dog life.  But like Red Foley’s “Old Shep,” she grew old.  Her owner said of her passing, “That morning she had seemed to be dreaming, giving little yips and her legs moving slightly, maybe chasing the memories of rabbits and armadillos with her old companion Jazz, who preceded her to the Pet Cemetery by some years.”  Sad news comes from Champion too about a family dog run over by his master.  It was just a tragic accident, but hearts are broken.  A good neighbor has a sweet little kitten to share, hoping to ease the little boy’s sadness over the loss of his special dog.  These experiences represent the down side of having a beloved pet.  The up side we all know.

Pete and Bonnie Mullens are having a good time over there in Douglass, Kansas.  She says they are still able to do most things for themselves, but they get some good help from their children.  Hopes are that 2019 will see them around home in these parts for a long overdue visit.  Another local personality, Gary Hutchison, has inadvertently provoked a new interest in “All the Late News from the Courthouse” which now can be heard online at  Look at the posting for December 15, 2018.  Professor Haden reminded us that politics can be goofy at every level from the courthouse to the White House.  It is funny and sad at the same time.  You can read the lyrics written in Darrell’s own hand and wonder just what he would have to say about all the current ‘late news.’

This time of the year, especially, we hear sweet stories of generosity and kindness that make us feel good.  There seems to be no shortage of these kinds of stories, because there is no shortage of people who can use kindness and generosity.  We do not hear many stories of people who just sit on their hands at the suffering of others or very much about those who never get help…other than statistics.  The world over there are people in dire circumstances.  It is said that “the poor will always be with us.”  Even here, in one of the world’s richest countries, income differentials are widening.  Worldwide, the poorest 40 percent accounts for 5 percent of global income and the richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of the world income.  As we watch the wild fluctuations of the stock market and as we are reminded of the salacious scandals of the Warren G. Harding presidency and the outrageous and unrepentant corruption of the government at that time with the Teapot Dome Scandal and the abuse of Veterans, a replay of the Great Depression seems to be in the thoughts of some Old Champions and pundits.  Some of the causes of that calamity listed in histories of the time include:  (1) European trade policies—the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930, similar to some of our current tariffs.  (2) The Dust Bowl.  Today we have hurricane and flood ravaged states and catastrophic wild fires in others.  (3) The stock market crash of 1929.  Today, December 17, 2018, news reports that the market is experience the worst decline since 1931, and there is a serious potential for a rise in the interest rate.  (4) Consumer spending.  The flat spending figures we see now are attributed largely to market insecurity and weak income growth.  Volumes are written about the causes of the Great Depression, and there are many among us who experienced it or are the children of those who did.  One is reminded of that Woody Guthrie song about Pretty Boy Floyd, the outlaw.  There are certain kinds of criminals who can electrify public opinion.  To some they are just common thugs.  To others, they are heroes.  Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd was exactly that kind of criminal.  Good holiday fun will include some history studies of Pretty Boy and President Harding.   There will also be an abundance of holiday cheer in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!