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TWO CHRISTMAS EVENTS should make all of us feel better in the final weeks of 2020. The appearance of the Christmas Star is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a rare astronomical occurrence, and the reverse Christmas parade provides a little bit of “normal.”
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Undebatable Champion

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CHS junior Logan Gatlin won the Lincoln-Douglas Debate competition at the Amarillo High School Speech and Debate Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 5. Logan went 6-0, with a 3-0 finish in the finals to win first place among a field of 24 competitors. CHS speech and debate coach Christy White said the tournament was conducted virtually, so the students all participated from their home bases, using computers. Logan won all five of his rounds, including three prelims, one semi and one final. She was also especially pleased that he won those rounds with all three judges voting unanimously. “We are very proud of and for him,” White said. Logan will compete next in the Lubbock tournament on Saturday. He is the son of Larry and Janet Gatlin.
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Texas Retired Teachers launch new online tutoring portal

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Texas children are living through a reality that many parents and school administrators never thought possible—learning the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and more through videoconferencing. Today, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) launches a new online tutoring website to help students achieve academic success, whether they are learning in a traditional classroom or from home.
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CELEBRATION seems to be the mood here in my small corner of rural West Texas. Maybe it’s the news of the COVID vaccine. Or maybe it’s a sign the human spirit will triumph over the dreary year that is almost over. Whatever the case, my little village is sparkling with lights, wreaths, and Christmas lawn decor. Residents have gone all-out this year with decorating for the holidays. The result is a noticeable rise in the cheer level. Spirits are high despite a number of deaths in our community due to COVID. Optimism reigns even though our football team was knocked out of the playoffs last week.
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4-H Christmas parade brings joy to Mesa View, Abraham Home

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The Hemphill County 4-H Club held a Christmas Parade on Tuesday evening. The organization decided to host the parade as a way to reach out to the community with some Christmas cheer. The group first circled Mesa View and then the Abraham Nursing Home to wave at all the residents, before marching through town and across Main.
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Four weeks to go in 2020. The year when our lives were turned upsidedown is almost over. We have had to rearrange our routines, rethink our priorities, and reimagine what it means to be normal and stable. Collectively, the whole world has invented new traditions. The U.S. invented the drive-by birthday party. Italians in Rome and Milan began banging pots and pans every evening to thank and acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of first responders and healthcare workers. That custom spread to New York and other cities hard-hit by the pandemic. In the cities of the world, musicians performed to audiences of neighbors who applauded from their balconies.
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Merry Thanksgiving! Christmas creep started early this year the day after Halloween. Known as the “pandemic pick-me-up,” putting up Christmas decorations earlier than usual is not just an American phenomenon. Christmas decor is flying off the shelves in Europe too. Psychologists call it “savoring.” Rushing Christmas is a way to connect with feelings of good times full of excitement and magic. Anticipating the holidays extends the euphoria. And in such a horrible year as 2020, we need a little Christmas like Auntie Mame in the musical Mame, who loses all her wealth in the stock market crash in October of 1929. Her response to financial ruin is a snappy tune by Jerry Herman:
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JUST SAY NO! That’s how several of my relatives are handling Thanksgiving invitations to share a turkey dinner this year. My brother, Billy, would love to sit down with his son’s family and his grandchildren, but he has RSVP’d a definite “No.” His son’s mother-in-law in Houston is cooking the big dinner with all the trimmings and expects her family to show up. My cousin’s wife, Lesa, encountered the same pressure from her older brother. This will be the first holiday season without their father who passed away in January. Lesa responded with a big “No” to a family gathering.