Black Friday spending vs November unemployment rate [Graphic]

According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers on average spent more during the Black Friday Weekend this year than over that weekend in 2009. Consumers spent an estimated $45 billion throughout the weekend, 9.2 percent more than last year. Last year’s low average occurred as the nation’s November unemployment rate reached its highest mark since 1982.

Black Friday shoppers start early [Graphic]

Black Friday shoppers got an early start this year. More shoppers lined up for bargains between midnight and 1 a.m. on Friday this year than in the past, but the percent of their shopping lists completed when the shopping weekend was over varied little from previous years.

Fred Schmidt [Photo]

Tree Lighting [Photo]

Sophia White, 4, explores an evergreen tree Friday night at Columbia College.

SLIDESHOW: Holiday Lights [Slideshow]

As the holiday celebrations begin in Columbia, Missourian photographers captured the holiday spirit of the Living Windows, Columbia College Tree Lighting, Cherry Hill Magic Tree celebration and the 45th Annual Shelter Insurance Christmas Tree Lighting.

Kenyan family starts a new life in Columbia [Video]

Habiba and Mohamed Badil, along with their children, are trying to make a life for themselves in Columbia after escaping their family's disapproval of their relationship.

Columbia Transit Rider Rates [Graphic]

In August 2010, Columbia Transit changed its bus routes. This change has since resulted overall in a 12 percent increase in ridership between Aug.2 and Oct. 31. This graph illustrates the increases in individual route ridership in November 2010 as compared to November 2009.

Crowd celebrating at Thompson Center [Photo]

The crowd celebrates after the ribbon cutting at the Thompson Center on Friday. The $5 million renovation of the facility will provide patients with greater access to doctors through high-tech innovations such as Telehealth units.

Thompson Center ribbon cutting [Photo]

Gov. Jay Nixon and William Thompson cut the ribbon to signify the opening of the Thompson Center on Friday. The 26,000-square-foot facility specializes in treating and researching autism and is equipped with more cameras and space to better help the visitors. "The technology is overwhelming, but it has been very convenient for the providers and families," Clinical Assistant Professor Elena Drewel said.

MU basketball player Marcus Denmon vs. Oregon [Photo]

Missouri guard Marcus Denmon drives to the basket against Oregon's Jay-R Strowbridge (55) and E.J. Singler, right. "We came out with the W, and that’s the most important thing,” Denmon said of the 83-80 victory.

Rock Bridge player Lindsey Cunningham vs. Rolla [Photo]

Rock Bridge junior point guard Lindsey Cunningham scored 14 points Thursday night in Rock Bridge’s 63-43 win over visiting Rolla. “As a point guard, she’s the coach’s right-hand person,” Bruins coach Jill Nagel said. “She sets the tone for us.”

Hickman girls basketball player Aqua Corpening vs. Helias [Photo]

Hickman senior Aqua Corpening drives for a layup Thursday against visiting Helias. Corpening scored a game-high 26 points to help the Kewpies come back from a slow first half.

MU junior crowned Miss Missouri USA [Photo]

Hope Driskill, an MU junior, was crowned Miss Missouri USA in Springfield last month.

MU volleyball players keep superstitions [Photo]

Missouri volleyball players Caitlyn Vann, left, and Julianna Klein both say they are superstitious and don't want to jinx their team. Vann has a specific routine before matches involving chewing gum, and Klein refused to cut her hair until the regular season ended.

Michael Scott plays Frank Nifong in holiday re-enactment [Photo]

Michael Scott will play Frank Nifong, a Boone County surgeon who was instrumental in establishing Boone County Hospital, during a re-enactment of Christmas 1905 in the Maplewood House. Actors portraying members of the Lenoir and Nifong families and will interact with visitors, discussing both local and national events from the early 20th century.

Stolen Christmas decorations returned [Photo]

These Christmas decorations were stolen from the Wetmore residence on Skylark Drive, then later returned after police arrested two suspects.

Forsee to take extended leave [Document]

The Board of Curators met in special closed session Thursday and agreed to an extended leave for UM System President Gary D. Forsee following his wife’s recent cancer diagnosis after emergency surgery last week that will require him to be away from the office.

O Christmas tree, how tall are your branches? [Graphic]

Shelter Insurance on West Broadway will light its annual Christmas tree in a ceremony at 6:15 p.m. Friday. The 30 foot artificial tree is one of the tallest in Columbia. Still, it is small compared to the tallest ones in the United States this season. The tallest living tree is in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and continues to grow. The largest cut tree this year is at the Outlets at Anthem shopping center in Phoenix and reaches 110 feet.

GRAPH: November's temperature warmer than average [Graphic]

November experienced warmer weather than average, but it wasn’t without its cold days. Although there were many drastic increases and drops throughout the month, no new record temperatures were reached.

Shasun founder announces MU partnership [Photo]

Abhaya Kumar, founding director of Indian pharmaceutical company Shasun, speaks at a press conference at the MU Life Science Business Incubator on Thursday about the partnership between his company and MU researchers to develop new treatments for prostate cancer.