December 25th found people standing still, wrapped in their coats and shawls, eyes closed and faces turned up to the sun, their lips sagging into smiles of relief.  The long grayness had passed, if temporarily, and hope bloomed again.   Champion!

Among the many kind greetings Wesley and Karen (Suzie) Freeman, hillbillies down in McKinney, Texas, say they are still kicking (“Don’t know how high”), “Read your items every week in the paper.   Hope you and people down Champion Way have a very Happy Christmas and New Year!”  Bonna Mullens sends her good wishes for the season and the New Year along with her welcome support to TCN-on –line ( Champion friends and family look forward to seeing her and Pete in Denlow on Memorial Day.  It will be here soon.   Pat Metroplis has been off in Seattle enjoying her birthday which was on the 27th of December.  She will be home soon with adventures to share.  Birthday greetings include salutations to Teeter Creek Herbs’ own rocking grandma, Jan Liebert, on the first day of the year.   That day also was for Jacob Wellington Masters, a long gone rascal of a moon shine drinking, brush arbor preaching grandfather over in McDonald County.  Jacob Coon’s dad has his birthday on the first.  Jacob is a 6th grader at Skyline now and has his birthday on the third.  Music man, Leland Isley, will be in the company of the fair Amanda for his birthday that day.  He is a lucky man and he knows it.  Then comes the 4th of January, the first Sunday of the New Year, with big time celebrations in store for the lovely Sami McCleary.  This dynamo of a Champion girlfriend will probably start her partying on New Year’s Eve and carry it on through the following week.  She makes smiles happen.  Congratulations on the anniversary of another trip around the sun, whether or not it is out.

Champion Richard Heffern has generously shared some timely observations with The Champion News.  “We spent last week in the Missouri Ozarks, in our little house in Mad Dog Hollow. It’s, of course, the darkest time of year, and it was very, very dark as soon as the sun, which had perched all day in among the oaks and pines very low in the southern sky, set in a modest blaze of wanly-lit grey cloud. Then… the dark swallowed up the world. We’re 20 miles from the nearest small town, seventy from the nearest city, and for most of the night there was no moon. Clouds obscured the stars, and it was cold.  Stoking up the wood stove was the least we could do to ward off this solstice-time assault by darkness.   Later, lying in bed, I placed my hand in front of my eyes and realized I couldn’t see it.  And I thought this was the experience of most of humanity for hundreds of thousands of years—just up until the last few generations.  For so long, we huddled around fires and chimneys and told stories into the long, long nights.  Feeling this kind of darkness down in your bones and deep in you psyche, one realizes how much, at this time of year, we need….well, each other, stories of light, hope that the sun will indeed return and not continue its descent toward the horizon permanently.  No wonder this time of year is time for closeness with family and friends, for celebration—Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule.   Season’s greetings! “ 

Herr Dr. Schmeckle writes in part, “I worry about the stress that Xmas puts on poor families – and yes, I know, the spirit of Xmas moves through the poor as well as the wealthy. It doesn’t stop me from thinking about the adults who put themselves into debt because consumer consumption has taken the place of holiday’s spiritual core. I worry about those, young and old, who wake up with the feeling that they are missing out – missing out on gifts, missing out on family or, most commonly I suspect, missing out on happiness. Mental health is fragile at best; around the holidays it takes one hell of a pummeling.  I want peace and love in the world. I want you to accept me as I am, just as I will accept you. I want everyone to work together for the benefit of the greater good – you know- healthcare, education, housing etc. These are concrete manifestations of things that religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever) strive for at their very core.”   Well said, Doc!  A note in the paper from 125 years ago says, “A man’s debts always overtake him.  He can never out run them or hide from them.  Debt has sharper eyes than justice.”  This is comforting thought for some who feel a debt is owed them.   

The Friday morning before Christmas Cowboy Jack and Mrs. Cowboy were thinking about going to town, but decided against it.  A little while later they became aware that their flu was on fire.  Skyline Volunteer Fire Fighters were summoned and extinguished the fire by depriving it of oxygen.  They were quick to the scene with the requisite equipment and skill and so the Cowboy and his Mrs. still have a nice roof over their heads and a Happy New Year ahead thanks to the Skyline VFD!

A note from Tim Scrivner of the Skyline R2 School Foundation says, “At the last School board meeting Jeanne Curtis handed me a donation of a $100 bill from someone and also a check from the School for $237. from a fund raiser the parents/students had done. We’ve also learned that the remains of a Wellness grant we received last year has been approved to buy drinking fountains!  I don’t have the details yet, but I understand that the fountains will be the latest and greatest. Our funds (now totaling over $1500) can be used to pay for installation, etc.”  This is great news.  Clean water=healthy children!

Ms. Ayn Thrope suggests reading for next year to start with “Savage Anxieties,” by Robert A. Williams Jr., a professor specializing in American Indian law.  She says it is an eye-opening harrowing read  made current as Congress passed a measure in December to give sacred American Indian lands in Arizona to a foreign company—2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest destined to be the largest copper mine in the world.  She quotes Williams as saying, “These are folks that have been fighting the federal government over their land rights and cultural rights for a long time, and here you have this little, small tribe of Apaches, one of the poorest tribes, trying to stop this.” Thrope speaks about logging in an area of Brazil where there were forty indigenous tribes and now only six of them are left after a period of just ten years.  She says, turning attention back home, “And while we are at it, Merry Christmas to Louis Peltier rotting in jail, framed by the FBI.”   Ax grinding might be Ms. Ayn Thorpe’s forte—a real country girl.

Dakota and Dillon Watts used to be called ‘those Tennessee boys,’ but are now are being referred to as those nice young men from Tennessee.  They were in town over the week end together with eight of their Champion cousins, four aunts and four uncles, their Grandmother Krider, and various great aunts and uncles.  It was a momentous kind of memorable occasion where many photographs were taken, many hugs shared around.   That is the Champion Way!  Happy New Year from The Bright Side!