Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Town

Biggerize me!

Flartopia has once again become a whirlwind of work. Thanksgiving was a brief lull, well-appreciated and now a fond, if fuzzy memory. I talked to my parents today--they returned home on Monday--and when they asked if we had recovered from Thanksgiving, I said, "Thanksgiving feels like a year ago."

While we're one person short in our normally four-person department, and taking time out to train the New Girl (whom several of us worked with at a different company, so that's nice), I'm back up to 50-hour weeks crammed in between my teaching and lesson-planning. Miss Chef is working three jobs now, her 2nd and 3rd bosses fighting over her spare hours. I feel like we're living in a parallel universe, listening to news reports putting a positive spin on losing fewer jobs this month!

So don't--whatever you do--don't think I'm complaining.

Back to the topic at hand...we used our brief Thanksgiving weekend lull to advantage, pulling ourselves off the couch from our carb-loading haze for our new tradition of early tree buying. I grew up in a family that often procrastinated on tree procuration until the weekend before Christmas, but then made up for it by leaving the thing up until the tail end of January, crispy dried needles and all. Miss Chef has successfully launched us into a new habit, thanks to her general enjoyment of all things Christmas. Now our tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving, to be enjoyed during the full run-up to Christmas day.

We did something different this year, something that, had anyone suggested it to me several years ago, I would have pooh-poohed with a disdainful wave of the hand. Instead of our usual six- to eight-foot tall Fraser beauty, we decided to leave a Thanksgiving-related side table in the living room, put a board on it for Miss Chef's train, and buy a smaller tree to put on top.

This train-table-board has long been on our list of projects. Last year, though we had a gorgeous tree, we never got around to getting out the train matériel. I had bought Miss Chef her own HO-gage set a few years ago. Nothing fancy, just a simple round track with an engine and a few plastic cars.

Finding a place for it was always a problem. The track was just a little too big for any of our tables, and there was no room under the tree for both track and gifts. Last year, the problem got a bit larger: my parents were thinking of moving, and started to--once again--minimize their belongings. They offered, and we accepted, a large portion of my father's HO set. Not so much the cars, but a lot of the decorations: houses, trees, animals. That's what I remember most about that set as a child, messing around with the imaginary town under the Christmas tree every year.

Now that we finally have an appropriately sized surface for the train track, we also have room to spread out our entire collection of miniature decorations. So, if you look closely at these pictures, you'll see a combination of old and new--shiny plastic Jersey cows sharing a pasture with faded Guernseys (or super-faded Holsteins, who knows?), wooden-based firs growing next to plastic-trunked pines, and 40s-era cars molded from '00-era plastic.

I'm very happy my dad was here to see us put his old toys to use again. In fact, we had some mechanical difficulties getting the engine going, and I was doubly happy that he was here--not only was he once again problem-solving man of the house, showing off his particular expertise, but it also saved me from having to stand by and say "I don't know, Honey," while Miss Chef guessed her way to a solution.

And, to top it all off, today is Dad's birthday. So, while he probably won't read this post--certainly not today, there being only two hours left 'til it's no longer his birthday--I'm still wishing him a happy birthday, and many more.

Happy Birthday, Dad!


  1. This is totally unrelated... but I just woke up from a dream about you and Miss Chef! In the dream, I was watching Dr. Phil. Families were talking about the hard work they went through to create a family. There was a lesbian couple talking about one of them going through insemination and what the delivery room was like and so on. As I'm watching and they are showing pictures as they talk, I suddenly recognize the background- it's YOUR HOUSE! That's YOU talking and Miss Chef is next to you, holding a little baby, having just delivered that baby a few weeks prior. What? So I run to your blog and sure enough- there are all the pics that they were showing on Dr Phil!

    It was so weird!

  2. this post brought back a flood of memories about my own Father. He loved miniature trains and all the cute stuff to set up a town. He's gone now and I don't know what happened to his trains. Growing up, we had an attic, and he had 'em set up there. hmm

  3. I think that is just so awesome that you guys put a train set for Christmas. My hubby has shelves and boxes full of train paraphanelia in our extra garage, but he never seems to have the time or the space to put it up. He inherited his Grandfather's train, of which he spent many a weekend going to train shows together with him and setting up the train gardens in his basement. They took up their entire huge basement and it was so fun to see.

    Like you, I like to rearrange the houses, cars, trees and landscapes all the time. It's like rearranging your house but easier and a lot more fun. lol!

    Birthday Wishes for your Dad!


  4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUR DAD! Wishing him many, many more!

    LOVE your train set-- It's really fabulous and brought back a flood of memories. It's something my Dad loved to do. It takes a lot of patience to put it all together so beautifully. You did a great job!

    Thanks for sharing. Happy holidays,

  5. Had to look twice.... thought you said "tree procreation." LOL!

  6. Please, please, please give us more photos of the train world! I've always loved them but never had my own. I once worked for a guy who had built a village on plywood in his basement - it was fascinating! I love grown-up trains, too, and am very thankful that here in my new town I hear train whistles and horns several times a day!

    Grandma Nancy in Iowa


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