I remember when I was just a young child and every year we would go to visit my grandparents for Christmas. This was always a wonderful time and it always started with a train trip. Trains were a very large part of my life growing up. My dad was a railroad engineer for the Rock Island Lines. We took the Santa Fe Line from Oklahoma City to Temple Texas. My mother was born and raised in Georgetown Texas a suburb of Austin. My grandparents would meet the train and take us the rest of the way.
Train trips are so much fun, for a kid anyway! I would roam the train from the passenger cars to the club car and the dining car. I had two older sisters and of course as a young boy it was my job to annoy them and the best way to do this was to tag along wherever they went. It was about a ten-hour trip and took all day, but I never remember being bored. We would take all kinds of things to do and we would usually sit in the club car and play Go Fish and War and even gin rummy.
We would arrive in Temple the Porters would come down the aisles calling Temple next stop Temple. The train station was enormous and old and all wood everywhere. Giant long benches and marble floors and the biggest hanging chandeliers I had ever seen. They had twenty or thirty baggage men and porters and ticket takers all wearing blue uniforms like military with shoulder boards and captains hats. It was all very exciting for a young boy of six.
The next rush of excitement would come when I would look around the station and spot my grandparents. I would run all out to my Grampa and he would catch me and swing me up in the air and around a circle every time. Then I would be a man for a little while because I got to help with the bags. He and I would go to the platform while my mother and grandmother and sisters would go "freshen up". We would take the bags and load them into the trunk of the car, in those days Grampa had a 1958 Chevy Bel-air 4 door yellow with white fins. I always loved that car and I always loved arriving and helping with bags and being one of the men. Finally the women would come out and we would begin the last leg of the journey. The drive from Temple to Georgetown was probably an hour and a half but as a kid that seemed like forever. Especially knowing that when we arrived I would get to see all of my cousins. My mother was one of seven children 3 boys and 4 girls and I had about 5 cousins in my age group. I only saw them twice a year Christmas and summer, but I think Christmas was the best. It never really snowed where they lived and they always wanted to know all about the snow. If it had snowed and if I had made a snowman or had snowball fights, of course I would tell them my wildest tails.
We were all family and it was wonderful. Family is forever and we all knew that no matter what every time I came for Christmas we would have fun. We would run and play and they would tell me all about the trouble they had been in and I would tell them about the trouble I had been in. It didn’t matter that we only got to see each other only twice a year it was as if we had never been apart, that is how family should be. Those that lived in the area would have their own family gift exchange on Christmas morning, which my immediate family had with my Grandparents.
Later that day the wonderful smells and the heat from the kitchen would begin as the women all arrived and started making the Christmas dinner. It was amazing we had everything you could imagine of course turkey and dressing and cranberries and deviled eggs and mashed potatoes and rolls and every pie imaginable. There were always other desserts too cookies and candies and sweet breads and cider. The entire family would gather before the meal and my Grandfather would say a prayer, he would thank the Lord for bringing us all together safely and also ask him to see us home again.
I miss those times. I still go to Georgetown at least once a year usually not at Christmas though. My Grandparents have both passed away now, but I will always have my memories of family.