Those wonderful hugs among friends and kin are the core of the holidays.  Heart to heart they say, “I love you.”   Old Champion tree hugger friends gathered once again down under the hill and feasted mightily.  One stately gent wearing a dynamite antique geometric tie with a diamond stickpin as big as your thumb, graciously opened doors, retrieved dropped items and contributed panache to the affair as well as a glorious salad.  His brother brought roast leg of lamb and roast beef with homemade horseradish sauce.  There were two enormous turkeys cooked to succulent perfection together with all the trimmings that one might imagine all the way to pumpkin and pecan pies.  Twenty or so revelers caught up with friends they had not seen since the Fourth of July or longer and new friendships were discovered.  Some tall young men were just kids a couple of years ago –students now embarking on exciting lives. Young Zack Alexander, who is nine, was everywhere, not underfoot, just everywhere seizing the day.  Olivia, who is about ten, and the hostess (gracious and sweet) yanked on a big wishbone but were not able to get it to break.  Perhaps they will let it dry out and try again.  The youngest attending this year was Olivia’s brother, a two year old named Leo. Their Grandfather, Toby Masten, was not present due to ill health.  He has since passed away.  Many of those gathered were well acquainted with him and there was much conversation about him that day.  One day maybe the grandchildren will hear a recording of the Abandoned Cadillac band.  It was comprised of a couple of guitars, a bass, a drummer and Toby on saxophone.  He had music in his heart and a great zest for living.  For the gratitude part of Thanksgiving, his friends are grateful to have known him.

Macey’s  Thanksgiving Day Parade made for exciting background noise to people who were busy cleaning house and cooking.  On Black Friday the local community radio station did a live broadcast of the 5th Annual Black Friday Parade in downtown Cabool.  Colorful descriptions of the floats mixed in with many local high school and middle school band and choir performances made the radio some nice background for a day’s activities.  The “Roots and Branches” radio host told a funny story about his holiday with an old friend down in Arkansas.  Reports were that the Krider festivities up in Rogersville with Vivian Floyd were well attended.  Donald and Rita Krider came down from Illinois to join Harley.  Fae Krider was nursing a sprained ankle and did not attend, but was happy with left overs and good reports of family fun.  Foster and Kalyssa went to see their grandparents Wayne and Bernice Wiseman.  Steve and Darlene Connor had a yard full of people visiting as travelers passed by.  Mark and Gretchen up at the Cobb house at the New East Dogwood School site had cars in the yard from Kentucky. Others postponed the celebration to the week end and made a nice two day affair of it.  Champions are thankful year around.

December the tooth (second) is the birthday of Bostonian Charley Burlile.   His ornery sister, Jeanne, is spreading the news because this it is a significant milestone. (60!)  It is a long way to Boston and he does not get down this way often.  When he was here early last spring he remarked on the beauty of the area at a time when the fields green from hill to hill.  He liked the pleasant far views before the foliage fills in.  He would like it now too as the leaves are mostly gone and the underlying topography is revealed with its undulations and surprising number of habitations. He will forgive his sister for snitching about his birthday because her particular brand of orneriness is part of what makes her an asset to the community at large.  The fourth of December belonged to another great asset.  Lonnie Krider was born on that day in 1941.  He has been gone for some while now, but he is well remembered and missed.  He sang, “Precious Memories, how they linger!”  Businesswoman A.B. Spivey is the kind of grandmother who will let a granddaughter bake chocolate barbeque pie while she is wearing her new princess dress.  Her birthday is on the fifth and her many friends say, “Have a great one!”  Philosopher and musician, Big Ed Bell will have Friday to enjoy his birthday.  He was born in 1958 and has in-laws living in Downtown Champion.  Skyline School’s invaluable Paul Boyd will get to celebrate on Saturday when school is out.   Sunday the 8th will be a big one for Veracruzer Chris Tharp, but he is one of those guys who celebrates year round.  Happy days one and all!

Champions of a certain age are well acquainted with Frank Cappra’s movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  It will probably be seen many times through the holidays as it is a favorite.           In it Uncle Billy, mistakenly hands over the weekly bank deposit of the Bailey Building and Loan to old man Potter.  Potter realizes soon enough that he has $8,000.00 that does not belong to him, but he holds on to it and the story plays out.  It ends with the townspeople coming up with the money to save George Bailey from disgrace and ruin.  Everybody feels good about George being hailed as ‘the richest man in town.’  Potter did not give back the money.  The story is reminiscent of current banking shenanigans as well as the behavior of certain large corporations whose employees are eligible for food stamps because they earn so little even working on Thanksgiving Day.   Then there is the matter of the great timber thievery in eastern Douglas County.  A National Forrest Ranger blocked the big logging truck from leaving through the Mark Twain Forest the other day with a load of 40 and 50 foot red and white oak logs.  They were cut without the permission of the owner of the land.  Who knows how many loads went out before they were discovered?  What about the money for those logs?  Where did it go?  Who hired the loggers?  There are canceled checks somewhere or do sawmills pay out in big wads of cash?  Bamboozlers seem to be running amok in rural areas as well as in the big towns.

Come down to the end of the pavement with your tales of deeps woods bamboozlement and find sympathizers.  Share grievances, gratitude, joie de vivre, and appropriate music at   Sit around in the meeting room at the recreation of the Historic Emporium just off Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive and discuss the pros and cons of being an ‘enlightened’ populace.  “Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me” over here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!