The wind and rain have taken most of the leaves down out of the woods, revealing home places that we may have forgotten were there because of lush spring and summer vegetation.  It turns out that we are more densely populated than we may have thought.  A nighttime ride along a ridge road in Douglas County shows the countryside sparkling with front porch lights in areas that were dark thirty years ago.  Since 1980 the population of the county has increased by about 1700 people, but with that increase we still have 2300 fewer people than were here in 1940.  Back then there were many small subsistence farms and factory jobs in towns.  Times have changed, but the splendor of the countryside is always present.  Winter colors are sensational.  The fog has its brilliance.


Cinco is a lovebird who lives down near Vera Cruz.  Her special human celebrates his birthday on December 8th.  The 9th is for Richard Johnston who was born in 1955.  Mrs. Samantha is an aide at our Skyline School.  She and Mrs. Karen, Skyline’s bookkeeper, also enjoy the 9th.  The 10th is for a celebrator of un-birthdays and for two Skyline pre-kindergarten students, Westin Nava and Levi Hall.  The 11th belongs to a Coyote, the gentle trickster, now Kai, up in Portland and to Loretta, one of The General’s lovely daughters.  The 9th, 10th and 11th belong to three prominent lawyers in Ava.  Name them if you can.  Up in Champion North, high on the hill, Xue celebrates her very big coming of age day.  Enjoy the work of Shannon Alexander Photography at  You will want him to take your picture.  Shannon shares the 14th with Xue and a couple of extraordinary people who have passed on—Spike Jones and Judy T. Ing.  Amanda Mastin and Jesse Ing share the 16th for their special day.  They are dynamic, good-looking young people who do not know each other, but they have friends in common.  Happy Days!


With Christmas on the near horizon we are again privileged to watch George Bailey, via James Stewart, endure an existential crisis and be restored as he was shown the real impact of his life on his family, his community, on the world.  “It’s A Wonderful Life” was made in 1946, just after the war, where Stewart had flown twenty combat missions as Commanding Officer of the 703d Bomb Squadron.  He had a stellar military career, remaining in the USAF Reserve until he retired as brigadier general in 1968.  Biographers say that he suffered from extreme PTSD and that it evidenced itself in the emotional unraveling of George Bailey.  Perhaps the role gave the actor some cathartic relief.  We found him sympathetic in every part he played always.  He was a good guy.  Lionel Barrymore played some kindly characters over the years, but in this movie he was Mr. Potter—a warp, twisted, old man.  We are reminded that he kept the $8,000.  Those war years and postwar years were hard times for many people.  A far flung Champion relates to us that hard times make strong people.  Strong people make easy times.  Easy times make weak people.  Weak people make hard times.  It goes round and round.  Sometimes it is difficult to see just where we are in the cycle.  Share your opinion on the matter at or drop a line to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  It can be a real treat to go to the mail box.  Our postal carriers will be overworked this season, so a note of thanks or a cookie or two might let them know they are appreciated.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we went–all across the nation for the purpose of giving thanks.  Travel was difficult for many and hopes are that everyone made it back home to resume routines on Monday morning.  It was worth the trouble for the feast of family closeness and for the fun and fulfillment of long standing friendships.  By now most of the leftovers have been consumed.  The internet took a leap and patted its foot to “Dooley was a good old man he lived below the mill” as Tennessee and Champion cousins got together with a great uncle for a jam.  Music is one of those ties that bind.  Tammy (not Louise, though Louise is a lovely lady), a recent visitor from Washington, plans to come back next year for another deer hunt with her Dad, another family tie made of a shared experience.  The month ahead will be chock full of hopes and plans and expectations, of memories and nostalgia.  Enjoy it as it unfolds.  Recent rains may have the creeks up, but it will still be a beautiful trip to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek, even if you have to go the long way around.  Soon the Christmas tree will be up in the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square.  The atmosphere is always festive around the ancient wood stove that has warmed generations of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!