Larah, with son Jonah and husband Tristan. The Pere Marquette locomotive is seen in the background.
By LARAH FAYE OSTONAL BARCELON
WITH the season of Christmas upon us, our inner children are yearning to celebrate.
All the wondrous toys, food and winter activities beckon to us.
We look forward to giving and receiving gifts as well as visiting with family and reliving warm memories formed at this time.
It is not only a joy to us but also to our children.
However, the perennial task of helping children believe in the magic of Christmas proves challenging in an uncertain and commercial world we live in.
The question of Santa’s existence is called into question as years go by and our children seem to grow quickly in front of our eyes.
Jonah writing a letter to Santa.
We, as parents, try to preserve what little time we have with our children.
We try to fill them with all the beauty and magic we cynically know is hard to come by in the adult world.
Recently, my husband Tristan, son Jonah and I were able to partake in our own little Christmas magic.
We entered the storyland setting of Chris Van Allsburg’s “The Polar Express”.
Mr Van Allsburg is the author and illustrator of the book that was adapted into a successful movie a few years ago, to the delight of many.
It is a beloved children’s book that is read many times throughout the year but most especially during Christmas.
The story revolves around a boy who begins questioning Santa Claus’ existence.
Mr Allsburg was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While creating “The Polar Express” he found inspiration from the Pere Marquette locomotive #1225 that he often played on as a child in the campus of Michigan State University.
He modeled the famous Christmas train after the Pere Marquette.
The sounds and whistles heard in “The Polar Express” movie were actually obtained from the Pere Marquette locomotive itself.
Jonah with Santa Claus
The Pere Marquette is now housed in Owosso, Michigan as part of the Steam Railroad Institute.
Every year, the Railroad Institute offered sold-out Christmas rides through their North Pole Express that tantalized their passengers with visions of stepping into the Polar Express story.
Complete with golden tickets, hot cocoa and several souvenir items, especially a little token reminder to always believe, it certainly was a ride that my son, Jonah thoroughly enjoyed.
As passengers, we were brought to the “North Pole”, a town called Ashley, Michigan after Christmas.
The Pere Marquette train as it rolls across the snow.