If the sun had come out on Monday, it would have had us over-dazzled. Each twig dripped with pearls that would have been short-lived diamonds with just a little sunshine. It is beautiful for folks who can look at it through a window or just step out to take photographs, but our farmers are out there in it, doing what has to be done. Our mail carriers are out there too. Everyone be safe. Chances of a white Christmas in our neighborhood seem pretty slim, with highs mostly in the 40s and 50s and lows in the 20s and 30s forecasted for the rest of the year, but who knows? After a cold, slick start to the week, Champions will be grateful for the warm up and hopeful that all those who are traveling home for the holidays will have safe travels to and fro and happy reunions.

Kennedy Hinote’s birthday was overlooked the last time The Champion News acknowledged birthdays, so we hope you had a happy day, Kennedy. She is a second grade student at Skyline R2 School. Seventh grade student, Destiny Surface, and second grader, Rachael Prock, share the 20th for their special day. That is also a day of significance for charming Mary Goolsby and for Herbie Johnston. Everyone will sing that song to them at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. Maybe they will play Herbie’s Tune, which has another name and, some say, words. Paige Jonas, in the second grade, will celebrate on the 21st. She is in good company with Chris Dailey and with Lena’s sweetheart. He will fiddle around to make her smile and the Vanzant bunch will sing to him—in G. The 23rd has kindergarten student, Chase Cauthron, sharing a birthday with his Dad and with neighbor, Sharon Sikes, and with Butch Stone. What a bunch! Christmas Eve was the birthday of Sarah Emaline Putnam Hector, who was born in 1885. She was the kind of grandmother every kid would like. So is Granny Grunt (Joann Anderson), and she was born on Christmas Day. Celebrate!

Every day is somebody’s birthday. There were 3,788,235 children born in the U.S. in 2018, the lowest number of births in 32 years. The birth rate has been declining at about 2% per year over the past four years. It makes us wonder what things will be like in a few years with an aging population and fewer young workers to sustain key social systems. Young people are paying attention and want to be optimistic about the future before they plan their families and, for many of them, optimism is a far reach these days. We wish them all good luck. Meanwhile, we have adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, putting forth effort to make things better. She endures some scorn, but hope is she will continue to inspire her generation. After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean two times, she will be home in Stockholm for Christmas and will take a break to rest from her world traveling activism. Her younger sister, Beata, is 13 and is said to have inherited their Mother’s magnificent singing voice. It will be a beautiful holiday for the Thunberg family all together again. Local families were caught on the internet singing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you…” The older folks in The General’s big family circle knew the words, but all the young folks had to read them on their phones. It is strange to think that there are grown-ups who are not well acquainted with Elvis. Time must be marching on. We are being able to record memories in ways that were not possible a few years ago, and while that is a blessing, we are somehow more connected and less connected at the same time. Sometimes it is lovely to turn everything off and be still in the moment. Enjoy now.

Cletis Upshaw

Friday Shelby, of the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion to take our blood pressure. Shelby is there from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. helping us to stay healthy. There is a lot of hustle and bustle this time of the year, lots of reasons to be grateful and joyful, but the holidays can be hard on people who are missing loved ones far away or missing those who have passed on. Laine Sutherland reports that her Uncle Tom Sutherland passed in his sleep at his home in Branson Friday. He was 88. There will be a Graveside Service for him in Denlow on Thursday, the 19th, at 2PM. She said, “He was a good man.” He will be well remembered and much missed.

Compliments of Butch Stone, Charlie Lambert is sporting a classy chapeau. It is a small straw number with a rolled brim and a jaunty feather. It looks like it has a fascinating history. Asked about Homer Hale and his fiddle in a flour sack, Charlie said he and Homer played many a square dance together and that Homer could play all night and not play the same song twice. Like as not, there are more folks around here who could tell stories about Homer and probably some about Charlie or any number of other interesting characters. We often think of Cletis Upshaw and all the stories he could tell. It was said of him that he ‘knew where the bodies were buried,’ and, by that, he knew all the pertinent history that was to be known in these parts–home. We miss him. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek with your stories and reminiscences. Join in the reverie—Champion! Looking go the Bright Side!