By Mark Hopper
One of my favorite Christmas toys was my train. I received a Lionel Train set for Christmas when I was a young boy. We have a photo of me and my father and my grandfather playing with my new train on Christmas morning in the early 1960’s. We still have the brochure that came with the train. The date on the brochure says 1962.
The train set was lost for many years in a closet in my parent’s home. I thought they had given it away after I got married. When we helped my parents move out of their house, my brother discovered the train set. But he didn’t tell anyone. He surprised me on Christmas Day with this mystery box.
Now we have a photo of me, and my children and my father playing with that old train at Christmas in the 1980’s. After we moved to Diamond Bar, the Christmas train ended up on a shelf in our garage for many years. Finally, some of our adult children asked me to get the train down and set it up for their children to see.
I was reluctant to do it. I didn’t know if the train even worked anymore. But, children and grandchildren can be pretty persuasive. I finally got the box down and set up the train around the Christmas tree. To my surprise it worked! However, the wires that powered the transformer were brittle and the train engine was sluggish. I took the engine and transformer to a model train store in Costa Mesa. The owner was able to clean it up and lubricate the engine and put a new cord in the transformer. My childhood train was running again.
Every Christmas season we set up the train Lionel Train again. When the grandchildren come to our house, I let them help me set up the train around the Christmas tree. I let them help me operate it too. They enjoy it and I do too. Even the youngest ones have become confident in driving the train. It is fun watching them start and stop the train. They like to load things on the different train cars and deliver their freight to different destinations. There are some train wrecks from time to time but they make the necessary repairs and get the train running again. My wife took a video a few years ago to capture the memory of another generation playing with the train.
I hope that my children and grandchildren will continue the tradition of playing with the Lionel Train with their own families for many years to come. It is one of my most memorable Christmas gifts.
You can find more stories and articles by Mark Hopper at his web site – letmarkencourageyou.com. His book with 365 stories and articles (one for each day of the year) is available for $25 which includes postage – contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.