Seeing so many posts about childhood and memories has brought me to today. There is a memory that I have as a child and it is during my favorite time of year, Christmas. The memory isn’t of family, but of trains. My parents, namely my dad was given an American Flyer train set by his father when he passed and for years, that train along with our Christmas tree was put up on Christmas Eve. Now this wasn’t just a train around the bottom of a tree. Oh no. It was a full platform complete with Plasticville houses, roads, trees, grass and sometimes snow.
As adults, we didnt see that train set for years and in fact my father gave the trains to my brother many years ago. He had to eventually retrieve the whole set from him because my brother would go to jail and the family tradition would die along with his life. I saw a glimpse of hope at that time, that someday I might get the trains. Most of my close friends know that I am a fanatic for the holidays. Not because of the decorating or the presents, but because of the joy of the season, the traditions, the magic the lights and the entire month brings to me and my family. It was a time in my youth that I remember my dad being home. That I wasn’t hiding. That I enjoyed.
Well, three Christmases ago, my parents came to visit and they drove this time. As we were unpacking their car, they told me to stay inside. They brought in four boxes and cases and set them down and asked me to close my eyes while they did it. I heard my dad whispering and choking up and I think I knew then what has happening. I opened my eyes and there they were. Every piece of trains from 1954. Everything my grandfather has collected and given to my father. Every good memory I had had as a child was right there on my kitchen floor. I cried with my father for a long time. He told me that I was the only chance he had to keep the tradition going and he felt I deserved to have this family treasure.
That year my youngest daughter was five. Along with my husband, my father and myself, we built that train platform on Christmas eve complete with houses, roads, trees and snow. We moved the Christmas tree from one room to the train room so they would be together again. We didnt stop until almost three in the morning, just like my dad used to do when I was five. It was magical, breath-taking, honest and I was happy.
The next year, the train got sick and would not run, though the platform sat in its glory all lit around the mighty engine. Darien would buy me new houses to replace the ones from 1954 and my husband would begin lighting every street lamp along the roadway. This year, my parents came up for Christmas again. There sat my husband and my father fixing the Flyer until we heard the most amazing sound of the engine chugging along, pulling seven cars like it should.
On Christmas night, after everyone was in bed except my own now seven year old daughter, my father and I sat at the platform and played with the trains. We had the best time crashing only twice. My dog helped and we laughed like we used to, many many years ago. When you come by my house and you see the magical lights and homemade decorations that we put out every year, know that there are so many reasons why we do it.
My dad was in the service all of my life and I never saw him very much. I was afraid alot while he was gone. Christmastime was a time when he was home. I wasn’t afraid. When the trains came out, I knew I was safe, dad was there. Just listen to how happy the chug of the trains made me feel at this very moment.
- Family Christmas Traditions (kleenexmums.com.au)
- How family Christmas experiences change as we grow older (kleenexmums.com.au)