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Trains and Christmas

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 9:06 am

Musings and Memories 

By Doug Dezotell

I was thinking back over past Christmases…standout memories…and I thought about trains.

I’ve always loved trains.

One of those memories involved my son, Gabriel.

Several years back Gabe bought early Christmas presents for his three nieces and brought them over to the house.

Jojo’s gift was a battery operated train set that he originally thought we could put on the floor around our Christmas tree.

We decided that there wasn’t going to be enough room in the corner where our tree was when we put all the presents under there.

Jojo and Uncle Gabe set the train track up on the living room floor, and the two of them played with it for a good while.

It reminded me of a scene from my childhood, and I retold Gabe the story again.

One Christmas when I was a little boy my mom’s brother, Arnot, spent Christmas with us.

It was a family tradition on Christmas Eve to pile the family up in the car and drive around town to look at all the Christmas lights. Back then people really went all out with lights and decorations for the holidays.

After the ride through town we went to the Christmas Eve Service at Church.

Looking at all those multi-colored lights glistening off the snowy yards during those North Dakota winters was a sight to behold.

We spent about an hour driving around town taking in the sights, with us sitting bundled up in my dad’s light blue Rambler.

Uncle Arnot stayed back at the house while we went to look at Christmas lights and go to church.

He told us that he was going to take a bath while we were gone, but he was really staying back to carry out a plan that he and my parents had concocted.

When we got home again, we all came in the back door and took off our snow boots and parkas in the utility room, and then we made our way into the living room while Mom made hot chocolate for us.

To our delight, there in the living room was our Christmas tree all lit up with presents under the tree and a train set driving around the tree.

I had wanted a train set for a long time, and there it was right there in our living room.

I was so excited.

That was one of my most memorable Christmases ever.

The father of a friend of mine was a train hobbyist, and he had a huge train set that was set up on a large plywood table that covered most of their basement.

This setup included buildings and mountains and trees and people, and I loved being able to go over to their house to see that train collection and its village.

I loved it!

But then I got my own train set. Mine was nothing like my friend’s dad’s collection, but it was mine, and I loved it too.

My dad used to take us kids downtown to a hobby shop that he liked to visit. We could spend most of a Saturday morning looking at their collection of train sets, and model airplanes, model cars, and model ships.

They had a train set up on a big table with a village and mountains, much bigger than my friend’s dad’s setup. They also had trains that ran around on a shelf hanging high above the train room.

Going there was a grand adventure for me.

My older brother, Paul, was a model car and airplane enthusiast and he would look at the model sets while I spent my time with my dad looking at the train sets.

I have always loved trains. I still do.

Jojo had enjoyed playing on her train set, but when Charli and Kori would get home from school, they weren’t as excited about it as Jojo.

They went straight to their iPads (kids and their technology).

At least Jojo takes after me and gets excited about trains.

Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Cannon UMC, and he is a columnist for the Bedford County Post. Doug is a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He can be contacted by phone at 931-607-5191 or by email at