Walt's Look Around: Christmas at Possum Ridge - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Christmas at Possum Ridge

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All the Possumites welcome you to Possum Ridge again this year. Possum Ridge is the setting for the electric train Christmas display that they used to have at the Old Capitol from the mid 70's until the year Katrina hit, and then in the William Winter State Archives and History Building ever since.

Possum Ridge is a miniature Brigadoon; Brigadoon, the mythical enchanted Scottish village that appeared for only one day every hundred years. Well, Possum Ridge only appears for a month every year; December, in tribute in part to the stereotypical Christmas gift from Santa in years past, a toy train. And then by the time of the post World war Two, it was an electric train.

I got one when I was about 12. Me and my older brother Dave fixed it into a figure eight track. And it went around in "eights" a thousand times. The smoke stack smoked and stank and the whistle blew 'til Granddaddy made us cut it out because he couldn't hear the TV. And although that electric train never left the floor under the Christmas tree, it went to the Rocky Mountains and the Sahara Desert and the South Pole and loaded cattle and I can't remember what all. But had it not been for Christmas, we'd have never had that train. That's why there's the train display at Possum Ridge, Mississippi in downtown Jackson every December.

It brings back happy memories. And yet it's sort of sad at the same time. You know you are growing older when the week before Christmas, that used to be the longest week of the year when you were a child, becomes the shortest week of the year as a dreaded grown up. Similarly, when you are a kid, you came to watch the trains at Possum Ridge. But when you've passed out of Toyland, you find yourself watching the kids watching the trains. That's what John Gardner, who is the Director of Exhibits for the Department of Archives and History, Possum Ridge no doubt being his most fun assignment, finds as his most pleasure while running the trains.

John Gardner: Watching the little kids. I've got a two-year-old daughter and she's really started getting into it this year. So, but I like to see the little kids faces when the trains come by. That's always why I try to hit the horn when the train's right by them.

Walt: Any of us oldsters who've not realized that the sum total of the Christmas celebration we've inherited is nothing more or nothing less than the face of delight on a youngster this season is probably still griping about how much this whole mess is costing. And thereby proving they totally missed the point of childhood.

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