Saturday, December 8, 2007
The Santa Trifecta
For about a month we have planned to bring the boys up to the Santa Train along with our friends Eric and Linda and their grandsons. We were able to keep it a secret until this morning, which, as the destination neared was impossible to keep in its entirety. But two of the four boys were surprised and those were good odds.
It was likely our last year on the Santa Train, as we will no longer be in New Hampshire at this time of year and because Santa will start to lose his luster as the boys get older (so a bittersweet day for us). This is a tradition that began with our daughter Addie in 1994 and we have continued every year or so since. Little did we know when we headed to Bellows Falls that the day would bring not one but three encounters with Santa along the way today--what we have now termed a "Santa Trifecta".
I find good things--and bad--often happen in threes. Even Linda wore a pin today that said "HO 3" (or as I kept saying, "HO to the third power"--this could be taken either of two ways).
Later on, at home in the evening, my husband was trying to get rid of some dry ice from a delivery of some bison meat which arrived yesterday from Cousins Ben and Nancy in Colorado. So the boys (all three) had great fun with that in some Santa mugs. [But don't try this at home--Dad carefully supervised this experiment.]
On the train, which is operated by the Green Mountain Railroad out of Bellows Falls, Vermont we sat in one of the older classic cars which used to be housed at Steamtown (which has since moved to Pennsylvania). The conductor punches children's initials in the tickets, just like on The Polar Express.
At some point in the ride, Santa and Mrs. Claus get on board and visit each car and child, while handing out age appropriate gifts. The train stops in Chester Depot for a brief layover and turnaround (I always dash to the market across the way for some fresh Baba-a-Louis bread) and then returns back through scenic Vermont countryside. It is always fun to see an abandoned house which hasn't seemed to change in the thirty years since I first saw it on the side of the tracks.
Here comes Santa Claus! Bah Humbug!
Last one on the train gets a patient husband, waiting with lunch and Baba-a-Louis bread, and an annoyed conductor!
After a two-plus hour train ride, the kids really needed to run around. We decided, quite spur of the moment, to take them to Santa's Land, just a brief drive down the road to Putney, Vermont. Santa's Land is celebrating its 50th year. It is one of those roadside architectural gems from the motor age. Santa was there, once again, in his little cottage, and the same kindly soul who had been there in the summer of 2006 when we first visited with the boys.
The boys also enjoyed another (mini) train ride at Santa's Land.
Surprisingly, no gnomes could be found in the gift shop but three were snowbound along the train route.
We left Santa's Land well before closing and were home by dark. Then we attended a tree lighting in Dublin of a recently planted blue spruce, which included a special dedication by Jamie Trowbridge of Yankee Publishing. The tree was lit and Santa made yet another appearance, the third time for us today. It was a jolly end to a happy day and we hope Santa, and his elves, will get a good rest. To all a good night!