A year can be a long time in model railroading. Not only can you accomplish so much if you put your mind to it, but away from the edge of your model railway layout, a lot can change in your personal circumstances whether you like it or not. But for whatever our hard luck story is when it comes to the size of layout we'd like to have, or which latest locomotive we'd like to add to our collection but can't afford, Christmas is a time to reflect on those less fortunate than us, the bigger picture in life and remind ourselves of just how lucky we are as grown individuals to be able to enjoy more than the proverbial toy train set under the Christmas tree!
This Christmas, I have been fortunate enough to set up my 'train set' (if you'd like to call it that), above the Christmas tree rather than beneath it! The rush to finish my layout before Christmas Eve came about simply because of wanting to include the lights of Philden Station as a part of Christmas 2016. Trains have been such a comforting factor throughout my life. Over the years, they somehow became a constant, calming influence, whenever the world seemed to be going to the pack. Only a year ago, I had to part with some of my prized locomotives to get through a difficult financial period when the expenses of selling an overseas property met with the strain of starting a small business just when everyone seemed to be closing down for the dreaded Christmas period. Knowing that we would get through offered little comfort when I was bubble-wrapping my model trains to post off to whomever was the winning bidder on eBay. Yet 12 months on, I find myself thinking more about those less fortunate than myself. To many people the world over, a model train would be considered a waste of money. Clothes, clean water or even a cow would be higher on the shopping list of many under-privileged people in poorer countries. So to not only have completed building a bookshelf layout over the course of 2016, but having more than replaced the model trains that I sold 12 months ago makes me feel pretty blessed indeed.
Christmas still has a certain power about it. Even to the non-believer. Taking the time to wish someone a Merry Christmas still brings a smile to a stranger's face. And for those traditional among us, a Christmas tree and a train set still evoke memories of child-like anticipation on Christmas Eve. This Christmas I've come to appreciate it all. Yet it still is important to stop and realise why we celebrate it every year, when the lead-up to the end of the year sometimes takes on proportions of the end of the world! In the rush to get everything done, sometimes we forget that the greatest gift was given to us just over 2,000 years ago, when time was split between B.C. and A.D.. Jesus truly was the light of the world, and as a lifelong model railroader I can think of no better way than honouring the gift that God gave us, than turning on the lights of my model railway and the Christmas tree, and remembering that this season is all about Him.
To everyone that has followed this blog this year, I wish you all the best for this Christmas, and the safest of New Years to follow. May your trains run on time, not derail or have the cat wreak havoc on your layout. May 2017 bring you a new model train, (or two), and even if it doesn't, may God grant your fingers the skill and dexterity to not drop that tiny piece you need to complete your next kit building. If life is shining favourably on you, may you enjoy every moment of it. And if it isn't, know that better days are just around the corner. Storms never last forever. Finally, may you get the opportunity this season to experience the real peace that only Christ can deliver. It was the great teacher himself who said; "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12).
Until I see you down the track next year, have a very Merry Christmas!