Can't stand crashing on your brother's couch when you visit for the holidays? Here's how to tell family you're staying at a hotel. And here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
We haven't talked about Brexit in forever, probably because the negotiations have been a lot less interesting than last year's historic vote. But the UK's divorce from the European Union has crossed a major hurdle, with a deal reached on the issue of the Irish border. Ireland is staying in the EU, and there were fears that border checkpoints between Ireland (which remains in the EU) and Northern Ireland (part of the UK) would hurt both economies and lead to unrest in the North. But this morning, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May announced there would be no "hard" border controls between the two. Now, Brexit talks move on to the truly hard work: hammering out a trade agreement.
2. Russia investigation
The British publicist who arranged the June 2016 meeting with Russians and Donald Trump Jr. sent multiple emails to a Russian participant and a member of Donald Trump's inner circle later that summer, multiple sources told CNN, the first indication there was any follow-up after the meeting.
The emails raise new questions for congressional investigators about what was discussed at Trump Tower. Trump Jr. has for months contended that after being promised he would get dirt on Hillary Clinton, the brief meeting focused almost exclusively on the issue of Russian adoptions, saying there was no discussion with the participants after that session.
3. Sexual harassment and Congress
Two more members of Congress are leaving amid claims of sexual harassment. Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks put out a statement last night saying he'll resign in January. Franks said he had talked with two female staffers about them possibly becoming surrogates who could bear children for him and his wife. He acknowledged this made them uncomfortable but denied any sexual contact with them. The House Ethics Committee was about to start investigating him. CNN's Chris Cillizza says the whole thing is just plain bizarre.
Hours earlier, Al Franken had said he would leave the Senate amid claims he touched women inappropriately. But the Minnesota Democrat gave a defiant speech on the Senate floor, saying some allegations were not true. He also wondered why he had to lose his job while President Trump kept his and Roy Moore runs for the Senate in Alabama. That makes three members of Congress announcing their exits this week, including Rep. John Conyers.
4. California wildfires
The entire Los Angeles area is at risk as six large wildfires are now burning through Southern California. The newest fires -- the Lilac Fire, which has burned three people, and the Liberty Fire -- are north of San Diego. But the biggest blaze is still the massive Thomas Fire north of LA, which may go down as one of the most destructive fires in California history. In addition to burning homes and businesses, it's threatened the Getty Museum and killed several horses. Together, the six fires have burned more than 141,000 acres and forced 190,000 people from their homes. Here's how you can help those affected.
5. School shooting
Two students were killed in a shooting at a high school in New Mexico. The shooter, who also was killed, was male, but officials haven't said if he was a student. The shooting happened right around 8 a.m. at Aztec High School in Aztec, a small town about three hours from Albuquerque. Students talked of hearing gunshots and hiding in their classrooms.
NUMBERS OF THE DAY
That's the prison sentence given to ex-South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, who killed Walter Scott in April 2015. Scott's slaying reignited "Black Lives Matter" protests.
The number of jobs General Electric is cutting, as CEO John Flannery tries to slash costs. GE is the Dow's worst-performing stock this year, down 44%.
People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.
Yeah, we like augmented reality and games, but the list of the year's most downloaded iOS apps shows we really like apps that help us look at ourselves.
'Star Wars' island
You saw it at the end of "The Force Awakens." Now, take a closer look at Ireland's rustic Skellig Islands before "The Last Jedi" blasts into theaters.
Trip to tomorrow
Cars of the future may not be able to fly us to our destination, but at least they'll take care of parking for us.
Kind of blue
Don't freak out when you step into the bathroom at this Sheetz gas station in Pennsylvania. The blue lights are a way to fight the opioid epidemic.
WHAT'S FOR LUNCH
President Trump will hold a rally tonight in Pensacola, Florida, not far from the Alabama border and that state's contentious Senate race.
Which city did President Trump declare the capital of Israel? Was it Tiberias, Tel Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem? Take CNN's weekly news quiz -- Total Recall -- to find out the answer.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"A Texas Christmas Miracle!!!"
The social media reaction Thursday by a resident of the southern part of the Lone Star State as big and fluffy snowflakes fell.
AND FINALLY ...
Watch this guy rock out on a $1 guitar he bought at Dollar Tree. (Click to view.)