Friday, December 19, 2008

An N-Scale Around the Tree?!? Be Happy with What You Have!

I love Christmas time. I know we are still in Advent and Christmas actually begins on the day most Americans seems to think it ends, unless you are like most of the Pittsburghers I know and leave your tree up until the Steelers are out for the season.

I can't say for certain what it is about Christmas that gives it that magical feel that would make even Walt Disney envious. It could be the presents, Santa Clause, freshly fallen snow, or just time spent casually and freely with friends and family. This is something even I have had a hard time with this year. Between a bad economy, a scary election season, failing companies all over and the increased stress that work has put on my team to provide more and more analysis of our business it's been tough for me to enjoy even a simple Christmas party let alone this wonderful Advent season as I should be.

It's hard to let the excitement and greed of secular and commercial Christmas not get to me. Where does an N scale train fit into all this. Well My wife and kids gave me my Christmas present early this year. It was a really nice HO Scale Locomotive done in the scheme of the Oil Creek and Titusville railroad here in Western PA. My first thought was that it would great pulling some passenger cars around the tree. That however is where things really started going wrong for me.

Search as I might I wasn't able to find my HO EZ-track, and the only store near by me that carries it discontinued all their train products this year and don't stock it any longer, and I just didn't have time to run down to the next town south of me to the hobby shop there last week. This was a real disappointment for me as I really wanted to have that train around the tree. The train around the tree is one of those things that while I can certainly live without one having one adds to the magic for me by linking this Christmas to those when I was a kid and my dad put up a 4x4 plywood sheet layout under the tree.

This year though I was really given a special gift by my daughter in something she said the other day. She prayed the other day that "everyone could be happy with what they have." This hit me hard personally because lately it's been tough for me. We have only one income unlike most of my friends and relatives, and so I have a lot less disposable income. Don't get me wrong I don't feel slighted by this in any way, in fact I'm very blessed and lucky to have all that I do. Sometimes though it's tough to not want more than I can justify having. This little statement helped me put things into perspective, for me one of the things that meant was improvising a little bit of track. While I didn't have HO track I had a bunch of N scale track that came with a small set I bought years ago. So I pulled it out along with its matching power pack, ripped up the tree skirt that was all bunched up and setup my trains.

Most of my equipment is N scale, and has been since the early 90s so after I did this it really started to make more sense. Granted its small, but hey it got my GG1 out of the box and running, and its quieter than my Lionel set that is just too loud in out living room.

This also had the benefit of getting me back into working on my rolling stock. I changed out a lot of old rapido couplers I had for Accumate or Micro trains ones. I also started weathering my cars a bit with pastels which has really made them look better I think. You can see the differences with the tank cars in the lower photo. All in all I think I'm a lot happier to just focus on what I have and enjoy rather than searching for something new to make me feel better. This doesn't mean I won't be buying more couplers since I still have stock to convert, but it does mean that I'll be buying N-scale ones and probably not messing around putting Kadee couplers on my under the tree train this year, or looking to buy a new cheap train set just to get the track from it (I seriously almost did it the other day).

So this got me thinking a lot lately that maybe I should consider something more for next year, nothing huge but maybe just a 40"x48" platform with some foam scenery and a tunnel on it. Something that I could screw the tree stand into to secure it and camouflage it. I guess I'll just have to make sure that if I do build it I make sure to be happy with what I have and not go over board for an basic under the tree layout.

The benefits of my four year olds philosophy are also helping in other areas of life. I'm happier at work, and in fact I'm making an effort to be sure that folks get exactly what they asked for or paid for and not cutting corners just to save me time. I also think that I'll start preparing all the "stuff" in my basement for a full purge onto ebay and out to the Saint Vincent de Paul store. I have a lot of stuff that I've accumulated over the years, most of it I save because it has "value", but in the end it's just cluttering up my house and life and making it harder to do what I want to be doing. If all goes well I'll clean up that stuff and have a nice place to setup my trains and a nice place to play with my kids.

That, is how I'm going to try and be happy with what I have this year, and to try to avoid that greedy feeling that can pop up when I start to see all the "toys" other folks seem to have. I hope you all can have a Merry Christmas enjoying what you have and not focusing on what you don't.

1 comment:

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.