Christmas Memories: Old Toy Trains

Last night while visiting my dad, we watched the Natalie MacMaster’s “A Celtic Christmas” concert. It’s that time of year, where no matter what station you turn, on there’s something Christmasy on the tele. It was a rare night where there wasn’t any Canadian sporting events on.

We watched the classic Ben-Hur, silent film from 1925, for about ten minutes. I had seen clips of it before. But it had been years since I had watched a silent film and I wanted to see what it was like. Both dad and I lost interest pretty quickly. The movie was of course esthecitally beautiful. But we’ve been spoiled by modern technology now. Watching the film gave us something new to talk about. Dad was never a movie fan. He would watch simply to please my mother who was.

I miss watching movies with my mum. We would stay up until way past our bedtimes and watch scary movies. Not gory movies. Just dark thrillers that messed with your mind. Our last horror movie that we watched was The Rite with Anthony Hopkins – because we both adored him. Mum stayed awake for the whole movie and then she said, “Well, I can’t go to sleep after watching that. Let’s watch something happy.”

That was one of the best nights with my mum. We stayed up until 3 am watching movies and then stayed up another hour just talking about them. I know my mum is the reason I have insomnia and have trouble sleeping at night. She was a night owl and did her best work after all of us kids had gone to bed.

Something mum had said to me not long before she died was, “If they remake Casablanca, I’m out of here.” I mean, there are just some movies you don’t touch.

My dad doesn’t get much out of television shows. It’s why we mainly watch hockey. I remember back in the day, he loved comedians like Mr. Bean and Victor Borge. Their comedy was easy to follow. Mostly slap stick humour. Victor Borge was an extraordinary musician. Dad and I would howl at the tv whenever he was on.

His “page-turner” skit was one of our favorites.

I also remember watching shows like The Grand Ole Opry. Dad’s toes would tap when artists like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson hopped on stage. Johnny Cash was another favorite. I recently saw his daughter Rosanne Cash live, and it filled my heart with so many happy memories. “Islands in the Stream” was a favorite of ours. We loved watching Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton on stage.

Seeing dad perk up a little last night during the Christmas concert warmed my heart. It gave us something new to talk about. Growing up in Denmark, dad learned to play the violin. He used to sit at the piano and tinker out one fingered melodies. I would later learn that his father was a very talented musician and could play anything instrument he picked up. My grandmother also loved to sing and she was the reason I took the volunteer gig at the Danish church as the organist.

I’m looking forward to Christmas this year. As it’s the one time of year I get to see most of my family. But this time of year is also hard for me. My mum – she loved Christmas. I’m just glad that I took time off church to spend her last Christmas at home.

Christmas. This time of year is filled with so many memories of my mom singing in the kitchen along to the greats like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como. But in our house, we had a favorite album that was played every Christmas.

And I still can’t listen to this song with tearing up as I think of my mum. I avoided talking about the album last night because dad is easily overcome with emotions these days.

But I didn’t know what else to write about this morning, and so I’ll leave you with this song that brings tears to my eyes.

This is Nana Mouskouri’s, Old Toy Trains.

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