One of the key elements of celebrating the Christmas season has to be an active imagination. And I'm here to take us to a place where imagination can take you anywhere.
Yes. We are going to the smallest town in Mississippi. It HAS to be the smallest town because the whole thing fits inside a room at the Winter Archives building in Jackson.
But with your imagination, you can travel from there to anywhere on its electric trains.
It’s only here at Christmas time. We’re going to visit Possum Ridge.
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; in 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.
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.