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Classic: Polar Express Train

Classic: Polar Express Train
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Yankee Classic from December 1998

Where are we going?” my mother asks. I sit wedged between her and Ian, my three-year-old son, on a bench seat made for two. Our train rocks and creaks through the New Hampshire darkness.

“The North Pole,” Ian and I say at the same time.

“No, you know,” she whispers now, her hand over her mouth. “I mean, which town?”

“Mom, we’re heading to the North Pole.” I whisper back out of the side of my mouth. “To be greeted by elves and see Santa Claus. To see him pack his sleigh and pick a child to receive the first gift of Christmas.”

She sighs, sits back, and bites into a piece of candy — chocolate with a white nougat center. Ian tries to chew the entire golf-ball-sized candy and stares out the steaming-up window.

“Is it Glen?” my mother whispers again. “Bartlett? Where in this valley would they be able to build a North Pole?”

I just smile and shake my head. “Mom,” I tell her, “you’ve got to believe.”

All around us, on car number four and the other cars of the Conway Scenic Railroad, children drink hot chocolate, eat candy, and stare out the windows of the train at the swiftly passing night. This train, they’ve heard, will take them to the North Pole to see Santa Claus, just as it took the young boy in The Polar Express.

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