|It kicked off with our Annual Photo Library Christmas Party - a time of reflecting, visiting, watching slides/videos, and desserts!|
|The vacation itself centered around a visit to Tennessee to see my parents & brother. We can only get down there every other Christmas, so it's especially special. This is my folks' house all set up for the day...|
|They also treated us to a trip to Dollywood - including two amazing shows/musicals!|
|It gets especially magical after dark, with everything - and I mean EVERYthing! - lit up and decorated for Christmas. It reminded me of the North Pole scene out of The Polar Express...|
And - adding greatly to the magic - was an actual steam-powered train going around the entire town.
|And now for the (railroad-related) presents! My folks got me this great UPRR calendar, featuring artwork by Howard Fogg. The main attraction though is that it starts out with my birth month - January 1969(!)|
|They also got me this cool railroad dining car service dish.|
|Which is significant since it's from the Illinois Central RR - the line my great - and great great - grandfathers worked on.|
|And for my research library, they gave me a copy of one of Ted's books. I'm still trying to fill out my collection, but this one fills an important gap.|
|The Missus gave me this cool portable photo studio from Micro-Mark. It'll definitely come in handy when taking "finish photos" of my projects. If you have one of these, I'd love to hear about your experience and how you get the best results out of it.|
|And her folks gave me these scenery books - I think the Missus must've suggested them, especially since she's been encouraging me to cover up some more of the plywood and foam on the layout....|
|She also sent me around the house on a scavenger hunt for all these components for my "dream house." Long-time readers will recall that I got a 1948 calendar last year and it had a painting titled "My Dream Cottage" on it. Well, all the items above will allow me to replicate that painting - Cape Cod house, hydrangeas, climbing roses, trellises and arbor, and of course a picket fence. While certainly appropriate for my era, I may have to stretch a little on the season (summer vs. autumn) - though this may be fun to do as a diorama...|
So that's my Christmas in a nutshell - at least the RR-related stuff. We had a wonderful time visiting family and it looks like I have some fun projects ahead!