Posted by: Roger Farkash | January 4, 2012

The Train Around the Christmas Tree.

After a year filled with the designing and building of a half-dozen Train Layouts, Train Bridges and Train Stations, and installing and operating various client  Holiday Layouts throughout November,  you would think that the last thing on the Christmas To – Do list would be setting up a train around the family Christmas tree.   Although not elaborate – frankly, this year’s circle of track was about as simple an homage to the tradition as I could muster between all the Holiday commitments – it brought back memories of the many years of making sure there was a train to “toot” in the arrival of Santa’s Big Day and add a dash more of fun to the smell of pine, the twinkle of lights, the endless Christmas songs and the procession of well wishers stopping by to admire the transformation of Home to Christmas Central.

With a Christmas morning surprise of a train around the Christmas tree a part of the memories of so many train enthusiasts, it is no wonder that the tradition of a simple circle of track has become a near iconic image of the celebration of the Holiday. You can just make out  the tinplate metal circle  and a windup Marx steam engine tucked under the branches of a Charlie Brown twig of a tree in Mom’s earliest faded Christmas photo of me taken with Dad’s old Brownie camera.  An image that has been repeated – though not always recorded as endearingly as Mom’s first candid shots – nearly every year for more than a half century by me and by a few million other boys and girls once a year for more than a hundred years.  That image of a tree in the center, with surrounding layers of cheerful skirt or cotton “snow”, circle of track, stacks of presents and family arrayed around as a final ring, there is something universally special about how once a year there really is a peaceful place to return to and reflect on the blessings of our lives.  Not a bad icon at all when you think about it. 

Whether a simple sigle loop or one of the more fantastic and elaborate multi track, multi-level, multi-scene and even multi room versions I have seen created by my many train friends along the way, most of these Christmas Train layouts are indeed just that –  Christmas Trains –  and no matter how long they took to set up, shortly after Christmas they just as traditionally find their way back into the boxes and into the attics or closets to await next year’s grand presentation and tradition.  It’s just part of that Circle of a Toy Train Life and the joy these simple machines bring to so many. 

As I wrap up the Christmas trains this year, I appreciate how much further that first train has taken me on my journey, and the enjoyment I get from my love of these magical toys and the people – family, friends, associates and aficionados young and old alike – who share a passion for steam & diesel, large & small, old &  new, toy or the real thing, and the wonderful addition those little circles have brought to our lives.  Best of all, I have the opportunity to share the talents I have been blessed with in creating wonderful model train worlds out of  those little circles that inspire toy train lovers with even ” just enough” space and the inclination to keep that circle going all year long, enjoying the magic of that Christmas Tree Train every day.

It’s a New Year, and 2012 promises to be filled with lots more train layouts and train structures and train adventures to share.  I am looking forward to doing just that in the weeks and months ahead!

Have a Happy New Year!


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