Dec 08 2008
When Don and I got married 11 years ago, we started a Christmas tradition of including a train around the bottom of our tree. Neither of us grew up with this in our own homes, we had different traditions growing up. I think it really started with the idea of “wouldn’t it be fun” when we spied them in the store that year. We started out with those funny plastic trains. The ones that are big and usually have some kind of character tie in. I think our first one was with the characters from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, you know, the ones from the Rankin/Bass version that is shown on TV every year.
We had fun setting it up, with it’s very short track – which was just big enough for an apartment sized tree. We’d then begin to really “nerd out” and included our 12″ Star Wars figures in the mix (only the Hoth ones, you know, because they are wintery), with the finishing touch of sitting Chewbacca inside one of the train cars. Then we’d play the song “What do you get a Wookie for Christmas” and laugh as Chewy would travel around the tree to the song. Oh my goodness, we’re nerds.
We ended up going thru a couple of the plastic character trains over the years. Later we included dolls of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney to our train route (no Vera-Ellen doll was made). This allowed us to play songs from White Christmas as the train traveled around the tree. But we’d always let Chewy take a ride, no matter how random it looked with the new characters on the train.
A few years ago we were in need of a new train for our tree. This time our search was inspired by the movie Polar Express. We had delayed in seeing this movie, having been warned about the elves looking “creepy”. When we finally sat down to watch it, we fell in love with the story and just adored the movie. It was then that Don began his search on-line to see if there was a Polar Express train on the market. He discovered that Lionel had the Polar Express, quickly found a store that would hold one for us and we were on our way to purchase a “grown up” train.
Since then we’ve added track and cars to the starter set that you get with the engine. We now have a train that is five cars long and each year the track is set up to go around the tree and a couple pieces of furniture. It’s turned out to be quite the highlight of getting the tree up. The boys love to take turns running the train and pushing the whistle as it travels around the room. We now play the music from Polar Express as it goes, and take turns setting up the characters from the movie that are actually scaled for the train. It’s fun to see how this has become such a big Christmas tradition for us over the years. I think it has become one of my most favorite things when it comes to decorating for Christmas, aside from my Nutcracker collection. But that’s a different story…
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