Champions started the New Year with zero degrees and a big full moon sliding down behind the mountain just before sun up. A sunny day full of feasting and family and friends is a fine way to start anew. Champions are checking their drip, being sure that there is heat in the well house and that the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors are open under the sink. It is that time of the year. One Old Champion said that he had heard it is going to get colder here than it has been in 100 years. (Colder than the 18 degrees below zero in 1976-77?) Memories of extreme cold will surface around the stove that has warmed Champions for generations along with those favorite sayings
colder than a tax-collector’s heart, a polar bear’s pajamas, colder than moonlight on a tombstone, than a mother-in-law’s kiss, or any number of other things. Skip said, “Colder than a well digger’s feet.” Ina smiled. “Safety” is the watch word. There is danger in the cold itself, frost bite and hypothermia come with low temperature and prolonged exposure. The dangers of gathering firewood are legion and visible as scars on many a Champion. That watch word is ___________.
Harley Krider was in the neighborhood over the holiday up in Rogersville visiting his sister, Vivian Floyd. Visiting and doing other good works for family kept him from the Wednesday gathering, but he likely spent some good amount of time in the Historic Emporium before he headed back north. Some of those nice Watts from Tennessee were also around gladdening the hearts of family. Lucky old retired people (Who knew how pleasant it would be?) watch the birds and wild life through their windows. Farmers, young and old, have cattle to feed, ice to break on the ponds, cows to milk and myriad other outside chores that keep them busy and vigorous. Karen Ross rolls down her window every whip-stitch to stuff mail in our boxes and propane deliverers stand out there while it pumps. Deer hunters are out there with their muzzle loaders just having a wonderful time. Those of us who get to stay inside around the stove and cook are pleased with the division of labor. There are some good stories associated with the tradition of eating black-eyed-peas on New Year’s Day. One notion about the custom is that if you make black eyed peas your main dish on the first day, you will eat at least that well all year. Champion.
Vanzant’s Bluegrass Jam was delightful despite the weather. Attendance was down slightly because of the weather and the delightful demands of family at holiday time. The music was sweet, particularly as it kicked off with “Happy Birthday dear Mary and Robert! Happy Birthday to you!” Mary Goolsby beamed and The General said he never heard it sung better. On the 31st, Tim Tamburrino of the Midwest Bluegrass Association sent out the good wishes from the music community to Russell’s little brother. Russell Upshaw put the Vanzant Jam together as we know it today after circumstances at the previous venue became awkward and Robert, The General, is doing a good job of keeping it going. Eli Ogelsby has a Champion grandmother and a birthday on December 30th. The New Year starts with parties for Jacob’s Dad on the first and for Jacob on the 3rd. Cousin Kabela is in between them with her fifth birthday on the 2nd. The first is also the day of much celebration for Ms. Jan Tettercreek. The third is for Dr. Zappler’s arm-candy, Leland. The sweet Mrs. Esther Howard celebrated that day as well. Champion Girlfriend Extraordinaire celebrates on the 4th of January. Last year she asked for a Spring Fling and it arrived with a fish fry and music and a sweet community get together right there in the big middle of the Square in Downtown Champion. It was a lovely affair. David Richardson and Sheri Lovan played music out on the wide veranda. A while back, sitting around the old wood stove there in the Recreated Emporium, she allowed as how that is what she wants for her birthday again this year. It is a joy to share her birthday present. We will just have to wait a little while. All the people born on the 4th of January are likely to have some of the sweet, generous, fun loving qualities of the charming Champion girlfriend, but there is no guarantee. Still, any wayward soul born that day might be worth redeeming with a little education and patience even if they are well into their eighth decade. It will just require forbearance.
As the holiday decorations get packed away for another year and “thank-you” cards get sent for generous and thoughtful gifts, thoughts turn to the year ahead. This past one has been a bonafide doozie. A brief listen into the internet echo chamber of the “other” political party shows that those folks believe thoroughly, honestly, wholeheartedly in the very things you oppose thoroughly, honestly, wholeheartedly. It is a gift that we all look alike-all of us being people–a person cannot necessarily discern your beliefs just by looking at you, unless you advertise them in some way. Circumstances, therefore, dictate that we treat everyone with respect. The days ahead may be full of difficulties and strife as some still chant, “Eighty-six forty five!” But there are songs in our hearts, gratitude and much optimism. “Eleven more months and ten more days and I’ll be out of the calaboose!” That is a line from an old song shared by Uncle Al Masters. November 6th is the date of the midterm elections-eleven more months and six more days away. Hopes are that there will be an unprecedented voter turnout. Some of the rest of the lyrics to Uncle Al’s song were.. “and he called me an Irish son of a gun–a breaky on the train.” There are many wonderful old train and railroad songs full of history and emotion like “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad.” Share your favorite railroad song at firstname.lastname@example.org, or TCN Rt. 72 Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717 or in person down on the broad bonnie banks of Auld Fox Creek. One of many a favorite is the last verse of Jimmy Rogers’ “Mystery of Old Number Five.” It says, “So you railroad men take warning and play this game fair, so when The Master calls on us we’ll meet my fireman up there.’ Then there ensues some extended yodeling
(ah lee oh lay he, odle odle lay hee, hee.) The old year ends and the new one begins with hope in Champion-Looking on the Bright Side!