The 'Holiday' Train

Xmas-train-Sean-&-Santa-web

                                          Meeting Santa for the first time

December 18, 2012

Last week the CPR Holiday Train stopped in Cochrane.  It was a short visit, but lots of people including young children and their parents were there.  Food and money was donated to the local Food Bank and money donations were received.

Clearly the event was aimed at people a lot younger than we are, as it probably should be.  A raucous band and some great singers entertained everyone, but I didn’t recognise any of the music.  Regardless, the musicians and singers were very talented so how could one not appreciate them?  It was too bad that it arrived during a school day and at a time when all teenagers were in school.  I think many of those young folk would have enjoyed the entertainment.

I couldn’t help but cast my mind back to when we, with our two year old boy, got on the CPR Christmas Train in Calgary for a short run through the sidings and rail connections in the city.  

Back then it was still called the Christmas Train.  We just thought ‘holidays’ came with Christmas, but didn’t actually define what Christmas was.  However, given our blended society these days I presume there is no option but to call it something like the Holiday Train.  To me, that term sounds pretty flat. After all, we even take ‘holidays’ in the summer to travel and relax, but there are no special celebrations or blockbuster sales associated with that.  In retirement, I have a hard time even using the word holiday because every day is a holiday.

If it is hard for many to accept ‘Christmas’ holidays, or ‘Christmas’ train, then I wish we could come up with a better definition than ‘Holiday’ to define this time of the year.  Why not consider some things that are common to all.  For example, all northern hemisphere cultures have been celebrating this time of the year for a long time, a time when the sun reaches its lowest point and renewal begins.   Also, this time of year seems to bring out the community-care sense in people and we tend to share more.  I’m sure there are other things unique to this time of the year.  Surely we can find something better to define it other than just ‘holiday’.

Back to our old Christmas Train days in Calgary.  At that event, families with young children would get on the train and spend about two hours being entertained by singers, magicians, and, of course, Santa Claus while the train was moving around Calgary.  It was all rather neat and I’m glad we were here when the CPR was doing such things.  As you can see from my picture this week, our young son was quite taken with the whole thing.

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A footnote of interest.

The origin of the word holiday is the Old English hāligdæg which means ‘holy day’.   Hmmmm...