An Early Christmas Present

Dec 23, 2013

One of the big differences between Mike's family and mine is how sentimentally attached we get to things. Mike's family re-gifts like crazy, and if you leave something at his parents' house, it will probably soon belong to someone else. My family hangs onto things, and consequently, I can still find most of the clothes I wore as a kid and most of the toys I played with . . . along with a million other items.

When I grew up and left home, I boxed up many of my favorite toys (my Playmobil and my dolls) and inconsiderately left everything else for my mom to deal with. As my boys have grown older, it's been fun to pull out my Playmobil on special occasions and let them play with it. I'm flooded with happy memories every time I set up the various pieces and people.

But Mike doesn't have any toys like that. I'm sure he had favorite toys, but he probably passed them onto younger siblings instead of selfishly boxing them up the way I did. So, aside from photographs, we don't really have any tangible items from Mike's childhood.

A few weeks ago, we were at his parents' house, and his mom said, "Aunt Kathy sent you a package." Aunt Kathy is Mike's dad's sister. She has thirteen children of her own and  probably close to fifty grandchildren, so I couldn't imagine what she could have had the time to send us.

We opened the box and pulled out an adorable wooden train.

Turns out, when Mike was probably thirteen or fourteen and in a woodworking class, he made the train. His older siblings had made similar trains when they took the class, and Mike wasn't going to play with it himself, so he decided to give it to Aunt Kathy's kids (his cousins).

Aunt Kathy included a note with the train saying that she thought it was time the train went back to its original owner so it could be enjoyed by his kids.

I often find myself battling my urge to be sentimental vs. my desire to have an uncluttered house. But in the case of this darling little train, sentimentality is winning. Even though this train isn't something that Mike himself played with, I still feel like we have a little piece of him when he was younger, something that he crafted with his own hands before he ever knew he'd have three little boys who would enjoy playing with it.

And they have enjoyed it! They've loaded it up with marbles and pulled it around the house and fought over whose turn it was to do what.

I'm so glad Aunt Kathy was sentimental enough to hang onto it all these years, and that when the time came to part with it, she was sentimental enough to ship it back to Mike instead of just doing the easy thing and taking it to the thrift store.

Mike, being his unsentimental self, probably doesn't care that much either way. But I definitely care. It means so much to me to have this little train and watch my boys play with it. It has definitely been one of the highlights of this Christmas season.

And, in the words of Aaron, "Dad was only fourteen when he made that? That's pretty good for a fourteen-year-old." Says the capable, confident five-year-old.


  1. Amy, I know all about hanging on to childhood toys as well as items from all of my life. I have the cupboard that my dad made for my sister and I when we were little. It was during WWII and buying toys was practically impossible so he made things for us. My children played with it as did the local grandchildren. And, at times it has been in my sewing room holding "stuff". And I have a stuffed dog that I received either my first or second Christmas - not in very good shape but certainly treasured. ENJOY!!!!
    Grandma Jones

  2. Oh my gosh, sentimentality would win for me, too. What an adorable train. He was only 14?! It looks perfect! And btw, I love how your Christmas tree is next to the piano. :)

  3. Amy, I'm terrible at looking on Facebook and hence I just barely found this entry. It has warmed my heart. I've always loved Mike and would have never given his train away except to you. Every year it has graced our Christmas decorations. I'm so glad you love it. It is a true heirloom tgat your boys will have to treasure. You know it is well built if it survived our family Christmases😊🎄


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground