It's the end of the line for another year. It feels like it did when I was in university and took the train home from Ottawa, arriving in Sarnia. I remember the relief of getting off the train and onto the platform, where my brother was usually the one to pick me up. I feel that way now, sitting in my home office, reflecting on the year and getting off the train, so to speak.
Without getting into detail, this has been a tough year for me and my family, although there have been some bright spots, to be fair. However, I feel more relief than anything that school is winding down today as is my wife's teaching schedule, as well. I'm relieved that the next few weeks at work will likely be quite light, which is great for me as I work from home. It means time to relax with my children with no imminent demands other than spending time with family.
I can't help but think that, someone, somewhere, is on a train right now, going over their year so far at university. They're proud of what they've accomplished on their own, but they're also secretly thrilled to be going home to their old bed and to the waiting arms of their empty nest parents.
I can't help but think of some older folks who are taking the train to visit with their grandchildren in a distant city, ready to relive the memories of their own family Christmases, when their own children were just little. Now they can see Christmas through the eyes of their grown-up children, who are carrying on the family traditions in their own way.
Finally, I can't help but think back to the countless hours I've spent on the train over the years, mostly between Sarnia and Ottawa. They were mostly happy times, as I watched the scenery roll by, talked to friends or listened to music as I relished being home with my family. Now that I'm older and my family doesn't really travel as much at this time of year, I think of those times on the train with greater nostalgia.
I think of the time I sat behind Walter Gretzky on my way home and how he was holding court with countless people who were coming up to him just to say hi and shake his hand. I think about my high school friend (who went to Queen's University in Kingston) and I spending hours on the train, just cracking each other up for hours, which made the time go by much faster. I think about catching one of the last trains into Ottawa before the massive ice storm essentially shut the city down.
So many memories, and these are just a few.
Railways will always hold a special place in my heart, given their role in my family's history and in my own life. Writing about them is a pleasure and it's been quite therapeutic during this very challenging year.
I will be starting up the blog at some point next year. I might ease the pace to biweekly for a bit, given personal circumstances and my mental health, but I can assure you I have lots of material to share, much of it left over from this year.
And that's not even considering some train watching I might be able to do over the holidays.
I thank everyone for stopping by this year. Merry Christmas everyone, and all the best for 2024.