Trains and treats

Posted 1/3/24

Sometimes it’s hard to try to push back against everything that seems to be going on in life with work and other obligations, in order to enjoy the holidays. 

Taking time for one …

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Trains and treats


Sometimes it’s hard to try to push back against everything that seems to be going on in life with work and other obligations, in order to enjoy the holidays. 

Taking time for one thing seems to rob the other, and it feels like five minutes for family can cost you days of work. 

Of course that’s an exaggeration, but even if it’s all in your head, the struggle is similar for many who balance work and family.

Having been told the week before Christmas that we had plans, I swallowed my ever-present mania and submitted to some well-earned family time. 

As it happened, my wife’s mother bought tickets to take the boys and us on the Honesdale winter rail ride.

When we arrived that Saturday morning and the kids were finally told what the surprise was, I knew instantly that this time was going to be worth every second. While we waited for their grammy to arrive, we walked over and looked at the great big diesel engine as it rumbled and came to life, warming up before it was due to take its passengers on the brief tour of the Lackawaxen streamside. 

Grammy arrived, as did Grammy Great, and we gathered our tickets and boarded the train.

We had a cozy little table to share inside the car, where the boys instantly pasted themselves to the window and began to take in the sights from the paned frames of an old train. 

The conductor passed us by and made his announcements as we jerked into motion and began to chug down the tracks from Honesdale to the White Mills area. We listened to the soft tunes of Christmas music over the speakers and looked at the ducks in the river below, taking pictures along the way of the boys’ fascination with everything that was going on in that sojourn. 

As we neared White Mills,  there appeared a small field that had been prepared as a Christmas village of sorts. There we enjoyed complimentary hot chocolate and took pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who were gracious enough to let the boys mount the reindeer for the photo. 

A fire in a communal pit slowly licked at a pile of half-burned logs, which fed heat to all the parents and little ones now slurping their hot chocolates. 

After a short while at the village, we all boarded and returned to Honesdale. I took it upon myself to entertain my sons and a few other children nearby with my trusty harmonica. “Jingle Bells” was requested only every other song as we made our way, but at least I was good at that one.

When we got back, the boys were still as excited as when we left, clearly an indicator that the trip was perfectly timed for the attention span of your average ankle-biter. We thanked Grammy and went on our way, thrilled to have experienced the train together. 

Feeling somewhat relaxed from the pressures of work and life, I succumbed to another such involuntary scheduling of events not long after, when my wife invited some good friends of ours over for an evening of cookie decorating. 

Initially, I thought we really didn’t have the time and that we would be too tired. But you know what? Who cares? Nothing will ever be perfect, and it worked out that we had a fantastic evening together. 

Our friend Amy brought her three kids over, and my wife had pre-baked a platter of cookies. She was still finishing several colors and flavors of icing to be shared amongst the gaggle of five kids. 

A hurricane tore through our living room and we three parents juggled a conversation in the kitchen as our minions ran their stamina into the ground around us. The cookies were eaten, although their dinner was somewhat less acknowledged, and we even got ambitious and baked some impromptu mini apple pies. By the time the parents began to fade, we somehow wrangled the kids to even pick up the storm damage that was our living room. 

The way out here we have to make the time we don’t have to give our children the Christmases we want them to have. That sounds like a sacrifice, but the reality is that it fills our souls as much or more than it does those of our children. The cost for family is always worth it. 

Going into the new year, I can’t help but feel relieved, seeing the reward for the marathon of work we sometimes get preoccupied with.

As we start 2024, my prayers go out to all the families out here, to the grandparents, the friends, the young ones and the parents. God bless you all.

trains, treats, the way out here, christmas


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