Christmas is a time for traditions

In our household, Christmas and trains go together much like a cup and saucer. Our fascination with trains began with a Fisher Price Huffy Puffy train we gave to a three-year-old boy years ago.
Painted in primary colours, Huffy Puffy had an engine with a smiley face and eyes that rolled up and down as you pulled it by a string. It had a cow catcher in the front, a real caboose, and a small removable engineer.
The little boy was delighted.
Years later, Santa Claus gave the same boy his childhood dream toy—a HO Gauge train. For years, our son and his friend, Scott, spent every available minute working on trains.
A 300-foot track filled our basement. The landscape included rugged mountains and valleys spanned by bridges.
The layout also sported handmade balsa wood buildings—a train station, apartment buildings, houses, factories, and a coal mine. And it was peopled by three-quarter-inch figures.
Now my son is grown and I have missed his trains at Christmas time. So for years, I suggested that I would like a little train track with an engine and cars circling our Christmas tree.
He took it seriously. And three years ago, he splurged and gave my husband and me a wonderful, whimsical Christmas train. This animated train is much larger than his boyhood train. It is a G Gauge.
Santa is the engineer, and he waves and says “Ho, Ho, Ho” as the train circles the tree. Next comes the tender car complete with decorated tree and an elf to stoke the engine, followed by a car with elves working on toys and a caboose with Santa’s bag of toys.
This year, we have a beautiful tree decorated only with hundreds of white lights and the train calling out “Ho, Ho, Ho” and “Merry Christmas” to anyone who comes to our house.
Thus over the years, our family has formed a new Christmas tradition. That’s the way Christmas traditions begin and are carried on.
Some Christmas traditions are handed down from generation to generation, then are joined by other traditions. But nothing can match the Christmas traditions of your childhood.
So what are your precious childhood memories?
Did you open your gifts on Christmas Eve or hang your stocking on the mantle? Did you go to hear Handel’s “Messiah” or sing “Silent Night” with your family gathered around the piano?
Did you string popcorn or make construction paper chains to decorate the tree?
Did you help your mother bake Christmas fruitcake, stollen, gingerbread men, or peppernuts? Did you go to Grandma’s house for Christmas dinner? Or did you ever get a toy train or a special doll for Christmas?
Think about what special activities you’ve enjoyed in Christmas past. Have some become traditions for your family? Or could they become traditions?
Christmas is the time to respect your old traditions and make new traditions. In a time of so much change, the importance of “sameness” during this special season creates a sense of unity with family and friends.
So this Christmas season, enjoy the special people in your life. Celebrate your old traditions, then start some new ones.
And experience the magic of Christmas once more.

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