A Simple Memory
Iâ€™m not by nature much of a toy train enthusiast myselfâ€¦but my brother Dick was.
He was eighteen years older than I, so our lives intersected only sporadically around family events, special moments, and a few precious shared interests. The toy train set at Christmas became one of those. Weâ€™d stretch out together for hours under the Christmas tree, playing with the Lionel train set that had already been in the family for a generation by the time I was born. Dick patiently taught me how to switch tracks, set the signals flashing, sound the train horn, and wend the loosely cobbled train cars through the tiny villages and towns we built around them. My most precious Christmas memories were never of the dolls or toys or bikes that Santa gave me; they were of the time my brother Dick spent with me, united by a train set, under a Christmas tree in Buffalo, New York.
Dickâ€™s fascination with all things mechanical (and even with toy trains) lasted a lifetime. He became an engineer, a husband, and then father of five, then grandfather to more than I can count. And while his family grew, so did his train collection. His basement was covered in the most complex and elegant train sets anyone had ever imagined. At Christmas, that basement room became a massive wonderland of intricate, miniature, interwoven railroad tracks. He composed a veritable symphony of clacking, chugging, tooting, squealing, and screeching trainsâ€¦and no child who saw it or heard it could ever forget the sound or sight of it.
My brother Dick passed away last summer; and I will never forget him.
I pray that each of you this Christmas may build memories with your own loved ones that will sustain you for a lifetime. Give them the Christmas gift that really counts: your time. See â€¦ really see â€¦ each one you love clearly; hear them well; know them deeply. And have a merry, loving, truly memorable Christmas this year. See you in the New Year!
Head of School