Waiting for the train is driving me off the rails.

I keep refreshing every browser link that might have a clue as to the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train’s 2021 schedule – is it running, will there be two trains, will it be a single concert in Calgary like last year due to COVID … but no news, no puff of smoke (shall we say) from the CP basilica as of yet.

However, I did hear that at least one other holiday train has had their travel trips curtailed by COVID-19 once again.

The Kansas City Southern Railroad also offers a holiday train, and has done so for the past twenty years. Kinda looks like this beauty.

Wow, that looks incredible.

And when the train stops at the stations … the kids can really enjoy the holiday magic.

Originally, the KCS Holiday Train would stop at various locales and everybody could take pictures of the train. However, many KCS employees became aware that although the train was a nice festive moment for the communities, they wanted to do more for the children. So KCS partnered with the Salvation Army, and turned the train into a fundraiser that could provide coats and shoes and clothing for those children in need.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the KCS train into a virtual fundraiser, just like the CP Holiday Train became.

Ugh. I hate that. I know that KCS did whatever they could, but with the pandemic raging, there was no acceptable way to operate that train without turning each event into a superspreader.

So maybe this year things could run again. Yes, maybe there’s a chance that the Rudy the Engine and all the Christmas cars can run one more time throughout the Southwest.

Then came this news.

In other words, there won’t be a KCS Holiday Express train rolling through the Southeast this holiday season. Again.

I’m sorry. I hate this. I hate that a charitable event that brings joy and happiness and much-needed items to children can’t operate at full capacity again because of COVID-19.

Now here’s the thing. The CP Holiday Train operates differently. I’m not saying they’re better than the KCS Holiday Express, or that the KCS Holiday Express is better. They just operate on different systems. The CP Holiday Train has concerts that are performed out of the side of one boxcar. People gather outside and enjoy the festivities. They enjoy the brightly-decorated lights that adorn the locomotive and the boxcars and the rolling stock.

But again, is it safe to do this right now? Are we at a point in time where there’s enough vaccinated people who can safely gather at these depots for the concerts? I mean … if one person contracts COVID from one of these concerts, whether it’s a track worker, a performer, a volunteer, someone in the crowd …

And again, there are two CP Holiday Trains – one travels throughout Canada, while one dips between Canada and the United States (it stops in New York, then goes up through Ontario and comes down through Detroit, to Chicago and Iowa and the like). Would the border be open enough for the train to cross three times? Or would they play it safe and only run one train throughout Canada?

See, like the KCS Holiday Express, the CP Holiday Train is also a charitable fundraiser. They’ve raised millions of dollars, both from the railroad itself and from volunteer donations, to local and national food banks throughout North America. And COVID-19 has caused an unconscionable rise in food insecurity. Last year’s train run was replaced with an online virtual concert, which at that time was the wisest choice.

And if it is the case that the Holiday Train has to wait until 2022 to come through… then so be it.

I can still hope for this year. Of course I can.

But my snagging a photo or seven does not, in God’s overall plans, supersede the health and safety of others.

Whatever Canadian Pacific decides to do on this front, I know they’ve looked over every single possibility and contingency. And they’ll make the best choice.

And perhaps one day, now that Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern are merging into one truly North American rail corridor …

Perhaps we’ll see the CP Holiday Train and the KCS Holiday Express share the tracks. or maybe even run each others’ routes.

I’d definitely be good with that.

And get vaccinated, everybody. The sooner we all get that Fauci Ouchie, the sooner we can get back to what we once knew as normal.