**Warning the following post contains references to both a classic movie and Anne of Green Gables.**
I remember the first time I made the devastating revelation that everything in my favorite Christmas movie might not be true. No, it wasn’t when I found out that Irving Berlin is, in fact, Jewish. It was when I decided I would try a cup of buttermilk. In White Christmas, buttermilk is the sure fire way to get a good night sleep. The perfect accompaniment to a liverwurst sandwich (okay, my defenses should have been up when I heard liverwurst). But one Christmas, while baking, I decided I would try a cup of buttermilk. Let me tell you, it was not at all what I had envisioned. I nearly spewed it out.
Yet this week, as I set out on a journey on a 15-hour sleeper train to the historic city of Xi’an, I couldn’t help but think of the glorious train ride in White Christmas. Okay, perhaps they didn’t get beds and ended up in a city without snow, in direct contrast to what they had been happily anticipating. But that train ride sure did seem romantic (in the Anne Shirley kind of way). And yet, as I was on the top bunk mere inches from the ceiling, with the sounds of running children, the fragrant aroma of cigarette smoke and enough consistent jerking to make me feel like I was in a car of someone learning how to drive stick shift, I realized that White Christmas once again hadn’t told the whole truth.
In all seriousness though, even though the train might not have lived up to Anne Shirley’s romantic ideal, it was quite the cultural experience. Especially, one our return trip when we were joined by around 8 children on our beds who were happily trying to speak English to us (you are beautiful, do you like the color blue?) and we got to witness grown men wandering around in long underwear.
So while, I didn’t ever end up getting to wear a really cool red velvet dress with fur trim, it was still quite the adventure. And then again, perhaps Bing (or Bob) didn’t lie to me, because he too, did not get any sleep on the train.