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Many happy returns

Traditionally, the day after Christmas is a day of returns and exchanges, but many area shoppers also hit the stores Sunday ready to take advantage of the post-holiday sales.

For Nikki Allen, 27, the first stop was J.C. Penney at Columbia Mall. By 12:30 p.m., Allen, who had traveled from Macon, already had found several clothing bargains for herself and her 4-year-old son. She also planned to hunt for further deals throughout the mall.

Travel a luxury for foreign students

Mohammed Khalilia is from the West Bank in the Middle East. The MU computer science major hasn’t been home in 3½ years.

Although he’s Muslim, Khalilia says the Christmas season is the loneliest time of year for him because many of his friends are home visiting family.

Adventure video games are eclipsed

Last spring, when LucasArts pulled the plug on its first planned graphic adventure computer game in four years, Sam and Max 2, the company wasn’t just canceling an anticipated title. It was burying a genre.

Graphic adventures are video games in which players encounter virtual situations and characters and solve puzzles as part of an over-arching narrative. These games reward wit and creative thinking above reflex and speed, skills required by most of today’s top video game buyers.

Christmas Eve brings three fires

A wood-burning stove sparked a fire that led to explosions in a shed and caused an estimated $65,000 in damage to an outbuilding and a trailer home at 9360 Smith Hatchery Road on Christmas Eve.

The Boone County Fire Protection District sent 25 firefighters and eight trucks to the blaze, which was reported at 7:45 p.m. Friday. Volunteers, with help from the Southern Boone County Fire District, quickly controlled the fire, according to a fire district news release.

Keeping my smile is harder each year

I gave up on making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Since then, all I’ve resolved is to maintain the positive attributes of my status quo (whatever they happen to be at the time). The one promise I’ve made to myself since I attained adulthood is to keep my sense of humor. And I’ve found that that gets harder and harder to do each time the calendar runs out of days.

This year is no exception. In fact, it’s an even greater challenge to keep on smiling. That’s because the list of things that threaten my resolve has grown even longer due to the most disheartening presidential campaign I’ve ever known.

McNabb remembers

ST. LOUIS — For Donovan McNabb, the heartache began at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.

For three straight years, the Philadelphia Eagles have finished their season one victory away from the Super Bowl. The trend began in January 2002, a 29-24 loss at St. Louis where McNabb remembers jealously watching the celebration on the field.

Surging Chiefs going nowhere

KANSAS CITY — The football year is winding down for Kansas City the way it was supposed to start.

With one game left, there’s not enough time for this season-ending surge that has reached four straight victories to accomplish a thing.

Top NFL defender dies at 43

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Reggie White, a fearsome defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who was one of the great players in NFL history, died Sunday, his wife said. He was 43.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but White had a respiratory ailment for several years that affected his sleep, according to Keith Johnson, a pastor serving as family spokesman. An autopsy was to be performed.

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