Sarah Stultz: January birthdays sure are hard to buy for

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

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I’ve always struggled with having children with birthdays right after Christmas. 

After finding gifts to purchase for Christmas, you turn right back around and a few short weeks later, it’s time for a birthday — and with that usually comes more gifts.

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My son’s birthday is coming up in less than two weeks, and I’m at a loss for what to get him this year or if instead we should shift toward having a new experience together as a family or with friends to celebrate. 

A few years ago, we had my son’s birthday at the bowling alley in Northwood — my son loves to bowl — and it’s not something we get to do very often without a bowling alley in Albert Lea anymore. That is always an option, being that it’s only 20 minutes away. 

There’s also always the option of finding train museums or train rides somewhere to visit on a day trip. For a couple years now, I’ve wanted to drive up to Duluth, and I have heard there is a great train museum and possibly train rides there, too. 

You see, Landon, who is almost 10 years old, loves trains and has multiple sets out at our house at any given time. 

While some parents are tripping or stepping on Legos, at our house we’re tripping on trains. 

There’s wooden trains, plastic trains, railroad tracks, tunnels, signs and even travel-size tracks that he can take with us if he chooses. 

There’s large train and medium-size trains — and even some small ones, too.

Aside from playing with trains, Landon loves watching videos with trains in them, and we’re constantly on alert for the sounds of trains at our house. 

On more than one occasion, we have driven in the car from Albert Lea to Glenville on U.S. Highway 65 to try to get to the front of a train so my son can wave to its driver at the start. 

Though my son’s age continues to rise, his love of trains remains — and if anything it continues to grow. 

This year, however, I can’t bring myself to buy another train-related toy, though they are his favorite. We’re already bursting at the seams with train-related items, and this momma can’t handle more.

Thus, I’m leaning toward finding a new opportunity that we can visit, instead, that will go along with his interests. 

If you happen to know of any good opportunities for train lovers within a one-day drive that would be suitable for children, please send me an email at 

We ventured up to the Minnesota Transportation Museum last year, which also proved to be fun, but hope to find something new this year. 

How do you pick out your family member’s gifts if they have birthdays in January? 

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.