Holiday Spending Role Reversal

Son has asked for only one thing for Hanukkah/Christmas this year.  A Tri-Rail train.

He adores trains, just like his Dad.  Husband and Son regularly go to the local train museum, and I’ve been known to just pop by the train station on a random afternoon just to let Son watch them go by.  And not just any generic trains; he particularly loves all of the trains that serve our local station – Amtrak, FEC, CSX, but most of all he adores the oddly shaped Tri-Rail trains that serves South Florida commuters.

Son is not a “gimme” kid.  He doesn’t ask for much – in fact this is the first toy he’s ever asked for.   Of course I want to get it for him.  I hoped to find something like the trucks Hess comes out with every year – sturdy for kids and about $15-$20.

Nope.  I’ve scoured the internet and come up empty.  I even had Husband try – and if there’s a train he’ll find it.  Nope.  I’ve even tried calling Tri-Rail directly.

There is no regular toy Tri-Rail.

You’d think a large-ish regional system would have toy likenesses, wouldn’t you?  Well, so did I.  Unfortunately no one makes a Tri-Rail train fit for a preschooler.  The only Tri-Rail trains available are expensive and fragile model trains, the type that people (like Husband) build entire train layouts around so they can run trains to their hearts content.   The thought of Son mistreating playing with a model train – the way a preschooler would play with a model train – makes Husband cringe (he hates to see any train not treated with the reverence they deserve), but doesn’t bother me at all.  A toy is a toy.


An engine is $90 and each car is $30.  That’s at least $150. For a toy that Son will likely break.


I even asked Tri-Rail if they had any special promotional trains, perhaps a model sitting in some executive’s desk.  Nope.  The marketing representative was very nice, and she even sent some train erasers, but even those aren’t Tri-Rail.

Have these people no sense of merchandising????

Spending $150 on these trains is nuts.  Completely insane.  Totally irrational.

And  I soooo want to do it.    Because I soooo want my kid to get what he wants.   I’m willing to forgo any gift for myself, and cut spending on others.  I’m willing to take it out of savings.  I’m willing to do just about anything.

I find myself in an unusual circumstance – wanting to spend money on something frivolous while Husband is being more circumspect.

He’s right.  I know he’s right.

But I sooooooo wanna get it for him.

So, this is the dilemma we face.  Do we spend $150 on the only thing Son has ever asked us for?   Or do we have him face the harsh reality and disappointment of not getting the only thing he’s asked of Hanukkah Harry and Santa Claus?

What do you think?


7 Responses to “Holiday Spending Role Reversal”

  1. goodfountain Says:

    Can you make some? Buy some DIY train craft and have him paint it to look like Tri-Rail. I think he would understand that you can’t buy toy Tri-Rails so you will have to make your own toy Tri-Rails. I bet he’d like it … and might just get him to enjoy a craft project.

  2. BeThisWay Says:


    I already suggested that to Husband, for all the reasons you mentioned. He says he doesn’t have enough time to get it done, and the paint scheme is too complicated.

    If you knew Husband you’d know that if he cannot do it PERFECTLY, he will not do it, period.

    Thanks for trying!

  3. goodfountain Says:

    Can’t SON do the painting?

  4. BeThisWay Says:


    Husband thinks that Son would be disappointed to not be able to open his present and play with it right away, and he’s likely right.

    I’ll bring it up to Husband again.


  5. Patty Says:

    Ug, I hate these situations! And whats sad is that I am not even sure how to handle that one. But knowing you, you will figure something out, that Son will love.

  6. GrannyAnnie Says:

    Get it. This once. Make adjustments. Do what ya gotta do. There is only ONE life. Money is paper and promises. Unless you guys aren’t going to eat for a week or two, then what on earth is SO IMPORTANT about the money? Can you do it for every request? No. Can you do it with any frequency? No. Can you do it for the ONLY time this sweet little kid has EVER asked for ANYTHING? Yup. Get it.

  7. Becky Says:

    Growing up my Mom and her sisters rode the Wabash Cannonball regularly. When we were kids, the last summer the train ran they took all us cousins on the train. Still one of the best times I’ve ever had.

    Tickets for the train, a picnic lunch, go watch the airplanes or stop at the zoo, they seem to have a lot of attractions close at hand. A disposable camera for him. Some trains even allow you to talk to the engineer for a look see in the engine.

    Wrap up a picture of the train (love the paint scheme!) and paste pictures of the three of you (or everyone that will participate) looking out the windows.

    A super spectacular day out for everybody couldn’t cost half what the expensive scale model goes for.

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