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“Champions stand at the portal of their new year shoulder to shoulder with optimism, purpose, tolerance, curiosity, compassion, love and gratitude.”  That was the situation with Champion at the beginning of last year.  The same rowdy crowd is at the door again this year.  Champion!  Hopefully far flung Champions in distant places will all enjoy the same excellent start to 2012.  Good luck!  New Year’s Eve found the Conference Center at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium full to overflowing with conferees.  Assessments of the general state of affairs of the world and various solutions to what are perceived as the problems flow like honey dew vine water.  It is entirely intoxicating to be a full blooded genuine resident Champion and even casual stoppers in find themselves a little tipsy for the experience.

Karen Freeman (Suzie) writes a post script to a charming Christmas note that says that she has never had a driver’s license, credit card, cable TV, computer or cell phone and although she lives in Texas, “they will never take the hillbilly out of me!”  Suzie must know that she is significantly more hillbilly than most Champions.  Even little shacks far back in the hills have satellite dishes on them and hunters use cell phones to keep up with each other in the woods.  Some stand around the stove at Henson’s Grocery and Gas on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion to talk about streaming movies on their X-boxes and their Wii(s).  Even aging Generals have “Facebook” identities and some Champions hire lawyers to do all the complicated farm work that requires reading and following instructions.  While they venerate home and all the wholesome values their antecedents embodied, Champions lean forward to the future to embrace technology and the world.  The name “Champion” requires an inclusive attitude but Champions are generally (for the most part) quite selective about what all they include.

A neighbor from over at Brushy Knob says that people eat crows.  He offers that song about “four and twenty black-birds baked in a pie” as evidence.  Of course, Champions understand dietary preferences.  Quail and dove are tasty, not to mention duck, turkey, chicken and an occasional goose.  Still, ‘eating crow’ has the connotation of being forced to admit having made a mistake and having to acknowledge it humbly (Mrs. Ross).  Champions know that it is really just a cultural prejudice that limits culinary possibilities. Crows and their close relatives are scavengers and so some have a revulsion to eating them.  Others decline to consider eating animals that are smarter than some people they know.  Last year there was concern about the five thousand Red Wing Blackbirds that had fallen from the sky in Arkansas.  This year only about one hundred dead birds were found on New Year’s morning.  Perhaps the ‘ban’ on fireworks in that area was effective (to the extent that it enjoyed compliance) or perhaps there were just fewer birds to start with. “Oh! The moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing.”  It is a beautiful song, if sad.   On the way to town the other day a Champion heard “On the banks of the Ohio” on the KZ88 Radio program “Roots and Branches.” The program comes on from ten a.m. until noon on Thursdays and on Sunday afternoons from two until four.  One old song leads to another and then another, so that a person does not want to get out of the car even when he has reached his destination.  Look for a connection to KZ88 Listen Live at www.championnews.us.

A clean slate is a Champion thing.  Starting over every day with the chance to do it all better is about as Champion as it gets.   As Champions age the nature of their New Year’s Resolutions change.  This year one resolves to enjoy her rest more.  She plans not so much to nap more as she plans to approach her night’s sleep with appreciation for the restorative qualities and for the opportunity for gentle reflection as she drifts off into the arms of Morpheus.   She will not take her fears or wounds or strife with her as she approaches her pallet—just the sylvan sifting of peace and gratitude for the day’s joy.

Johnny is marching home!  Hurrah!  Hurrah!  Many soldiers are returning from tours of duty in the dangerous parts of the world.  Many were wounded and many of those wounds are not visible.   Honoring and caring for the American sons and daughters who were asked by their Nation to sacrifice their youth and in so many cases their bodies and lives is an obligation not to be taken lightly.  Fortunately Veteran’s organizations like the VFW are in place to help.  Pete Proctor over at the VFW Post 3770 in Mountain Grove and Larry Morrison over in Ava at the VFW Post 5993 have real zeal for stepping up and lending a hand.  Any Veteran or family of a Veteran can look to these organizations of friends and neighbors for encouragement, information and understanding.  Champion!

Old fashioned pen and ink on paper thank you notes are being sent through the mail to friends and family for thoughtful gifts and thoughtful thoughts over the holidays.   Thank you notes are going out too from the Skyline R-2 School Foundation to those generous individuals who have already donated to help get it going.  Literacy programs and technology updates at the school will be the immediate beneficiaries of Foundation funds.  For more information about the Foundation contact the school or stop in at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion where literature is available.   Stand around the stove for a little while to soak up some warmth and some ambiance.

The farmer’s almanac indicates that Champions will enjoy average temperatures this winter and that it will be very wet.  Weather patterns will be determined by activities of La Nina over in the Pacific Ocean.  States just to the South of Champion are predicted to have a mild and also a very wet winter.  Some Texans will be glad to hear it.  Garden planning has begun in earnest now.  Decisions being made now will affect the pantry in September.  Champions rely on Linda up in Norwood and on each other for inspiration, information and sometimes other things.   Good neighbors are a gift.

Word is that Louise and Wilburn are doing well.  Sue and Manuel Hutchison were good company in from Iowa over the holidays and there is a steady stream of visitors in and out.  Ruby Proctor is doing well according to rumors.  Esther Wrinkles said that she had heard as much from mutual friends recently.  Report good rumors to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion@getgoin.net. The big excitement these days is the musical pot luck gatherings at the Vanzant Community Center every Thursday.  People bring a dish or a donation and show up ready to eat about six o’clock and then settle in for lots of good music.  Toe tapping music is a sure antidote for Cabin Fever.  Champions venture over toward Vanzant on Thursday evenings to hear “Put another log on the fire.  Cook me up some bacon and some beans,” but the rest of the time they keep the winter doldrums away just by strolling the broad pleasant avenues of their Historic Hamlet soaking up the healthful benefits of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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