Christmas in July? Why not!?!

Posted by Bob Keller
on Monday, July 15, 2019

This was a scene I made for a 2005 story on making snow for your layout. I brought my own structures in and this station, from a Kohls Department Store collection, is my main depot at home.

It was pretty well-known around Classic Toy Trains that I had 600 or 700 Christmas songs on my computer, and that anytime of the year one might pass my office and hear Jingle Bell RockI’ll be Home for ChristmasDon’t Forget to Feed the Reindeer, or Christmas at NORAD.

Christmas music can be a palate cleanser year-round and can get you thinking about cool snow in the midst of a heat wave.

The late Dean Bennett, CTT’s long-time ad sales manager used to hold an annual Christmas In July party at his home. He went all-out with a decorated garden, a decked out house, exterior Christmas lights, and Christmas music on the stereo. It was wacky, frivolous, and I don’t think anybody ever left with a frown.

But for train guys and gals Christmas in July has a special meaning – they start making their first plans about what this year’s tree layout will look like. They’ll think about previous years and what worked well and what didn’t. Which buildings and decorations would be the best to prominently place.

Will it be a carpet layout or will a base and foundation need to be built?

Will the track plan be the same as last year or will a new theme be used?

A conventional track plan or something special like a line climbing a mountain and running back down?

Are all the holiday trains in good running order or will something need to go into the shop of a tune-up?

Need to get to the hobby shop to order a new Christmas car or locomotive?

What about track? Is it still in good shape? Have any dead spots in the line last year? What about the switches? Working fast and efficient?

Need a few new sections to expand the curve or the length of the straight run?

Of course, all of the track will need a good cleaning of you didn’t do the job when it went in the box last year.

Oh, and what about the pets?

This isn’t a frivolous idea. A friend of mine usually set his Christmas route up in August!

Oh, it didn’t stay up long and easily took up 2/3 of his living room, but he would clean the track and then spend several days checking clearances, electrical connections, and tinkering with the fun. Some holidays would be accessory heavy while others would be a maze of switches and crossovers in the spirit of Gomez Adams.

He always took copious notes to build a wiring diagram “just in case.”

Then poof, it would come apart and go back into boxes until the day after Thanksgiving! Then the holly jolly times would roll.

So don’t you feel lazy? Your peers are already out there planning their holiday fun while you are still mowing your lawn. So get in the house and start measuring your floor space!

The mission at hand is how to turn this into the centerpiece of your household Christmas display!

Sizing up for a small artificial tree. Plenty of room but the dogs posed a hazard. The pooch on the right would sit and watch the trains roll past all day. The pup on the left viewed them and intruders that needed to be destroyed!

Alas, our last tree layout (tree on the table) minimized dog sabotage time but as you can see from the black fuzz on the right of the photo, the dog was planning the doom of the Royal Blue.

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