Loretta Upshaw, Robert Upshaw, Elva Upshaw, Michael Upshaw, Debora Barker

Friends, neighbors, kinfolks and blood relatives from several counties and various states gathered in Vanzant on Saturday to celebrate the birthday of a truly unique individual. Born January 31, 1943, Robert Upshaw has now officially entered his ninth decade. He has done it with flair and with fanfare, good humor and with the respect and admiration of all those attending as well as scores of others. The community building may never have been so lavishly decorated. The Upshaw daughters are to be applauded. A steady stream of well-wishers came and went through the whole afternoon with only eighty of them signing the guest book. It is not that the others could not write, but that they were busy renewing old acquaintances and making new friends among the many admirers of the gentleman–The General. When the sheriff stopped by, it was a relief that he was there to pay respects and not to haul anybody off to jail. The internet was fairly awash with well wishers all that day and the next right on into New Year’s Day!

Skyline fourth grader, Pearson Matthews, had his birthday on December 30th. Charming Arne Coon and Teeter Creek’s lovely Jan Liebert enjoy the first day of January for their birthdays. Kabella Clark is the great niece of Uncle Arne. Her birthday is January 2nd, and the fair Anastasia will have a party on the third. Sweet Sami McCleary and motorcycle hoodlum Lee Ray share their birthday with The General’s nephew, David Upshaw, on January 4th. Probably David will be serenaded at the Vanzant Jam that night. The 5th is for Skyline kindergarten student Amelia Johnson. The sixth is the big day for Felix the Farmer and for Bud Watkins. Felix just had a good adventure at the Memphis, Tennessee Zoo. Bud is a Skyline VFD firefighter and a much appreciated school maintenance engineer. Skyline seventh grader, Renee Wagner, will celebrate on January 7th. These birthdays that occur in and around the Christmas and New Year holidays add to the joy of the season. You are even more reason to celebrate—Happy birthday!

If we can meet the new year with open hearts, open minds, and optimism, perhaps 2024 will be better than expected and even better than we might have hoped for. Charles Dickens said, “Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.” Those are good words to start a Happy New Year in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!