Few things encourage the nostalgic feelings of Christmas more than trains. Kids gleefully watching at eye level as the train goes in circles around the uneven track set about the Christmas tree. In my opinion, trains are to Christmas, like ice cream is to apple pie.
Like many people, some of my own early memories involve the gift of trains.
I was four when I first saw the red, white, and black of a CN passenger engine circling our tree on Christmas morning. Speeding up the train and watching to see how fast I could go before the two freight cars and the caboose would fly off the track. Sadly my parents never gifted me the Gomez Adams guide to blowing up model trains. I still to this day do not understand why.
Trains were an inescapable part of my childhood. My dad worked for the railroad, so where the trains went, so did our family. From Washago to Lansdowne, Westree to Elsas, and many points between. I don’t think I’ve ever lived farther than five kilometres from a train track.
My own children’s first experiences with trains were like many others, as Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel found their way around our tree one Christmas morning. Since then all the kids in our family have received trains in one way or another. Some have long outgrown this, considering FIFA 20 and other X-Box games more interesting. Lucky for me, some have delved into the hobby.
Still each Christmas, all four kids argue over who will turn on the train around our tree each year announcing the arrival of presents under the tree. Maybe it’s just about those presents and not the sound of a steam whistle.
Just as model trains can connect families and generations, so can the life-sized ones.
That opportunity was presented to our community this week with the announcement that the steam engine and cars on display at Crysler Park will remain for the community to look after and enjoy, thanks Bob.
That leads to another one of those nostalgic traditions for this family, and many others in South Dundas: driving past that train during Alight at Night.
Even if you don’t go to Alight at Night, the train is the community’s own little piece of that event that everyone can enjoy. A marker that everyone knows, South Dundas wouldn’t have been the same without it.