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Under the Christmas Tree


Under the Christmas Tree

            There’s an electric train under our Christmas tree.  Nothing unusual for most people.  But we never even owned an electric train until December 20th last year when Husband came home with a big box.  “I got something for a little surprise.”  And then he set up the railroad tracks in the bedroom where the Grands sleep when they spend the night.  The train was a hit, but it rarely ran.  Out of sight and away from the action.

This year is different.  “David,” I said to our oldest Grand, “let’s set up Pop’s electric train under the Christmas tree.”  David, age 7, was slow to respond.  He eyed the space between the low tree branches and the floor.  “But then there won’t be room for all the presents,” he said.  His silence questioned if I was suggesting that the train would replace presents.  I assured him that gifts could be stacked near, not under, the tree.

David and I connected the train tracks and hooked the train cars together.  Black engine leading and red caboose at the end.  And the Grands loved it.  When they visited the next time, each took a turn at the controls.  The train zoomed, forward and backward.  And the horn blasted.  Ah, just as I’d envisioned.

And a few days later, Husband went shopping again.  For candy.  Now an open hopper car is full of chocolate candy kisses – wrapped in read and silver and green.  Another hopper hauls peppermint patties.  Chocolate Santas are stacked on the flatcar and held securely with red rubber bands.  And inside the boxcar?  It’s loaded with Pez.  Every flavor made.  “Look at all the special treats!”  said Lou, our five-year-old Grand.  And each Grand ate a special treat, chocolate Santas, after lunch.

“You know, this train is missing something,” David said.  Maybe another car loaded with candy?  “It needs a tunnel.”  Husband and David went on a hunt for a box.  None, in recycling or those saved for wrapping gifts, were the right size.  “I know.  I’ll be right back.”  He rolled our play grocery cart filled with large cardboard building blocks into the living room.  He and Lou built a tunnel that encloses one end of the tracks.  Lou took the controls and both agreed the train wouldn’t knock down the tunnel.  But they’d have to tell Elain, their baby sister, to not take the tunnel apart.

“Now,” said Lou, “where’s the engineer?”  Out came the Legos.  David constructed.  Lou advised.  The engineer sits atop a platform so he can see the train really well.  The platform is attached to an overhead water sprinkler – “just in case there’s a fire on the train,” David told me.  Lou built a small Lego house so the engineer will have a place to sleep when he isn’t working.

Now our electric train is complete, I think.  And I love it.  But there’s still time for Husband to go shopping and hide a little special surprise in the boxcar.



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