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The spirit of Christmases past

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It's beginning to look like Christmas. A time when people are inspired to reflect about previous Christmases and enjoy their reminisces of them. A flood of mixed emotions can come into play, as some Christmases are joyful while others are sorrowful due to a recent tragic event. In this article we revisit the spirit of the community of Christmases past. Some Christmases were literally out of this world, namely in outer space, and others are just quiet and serene.

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25 years ago in 1988 there was a solemn mood across the globe at Christmas, as the world was reeling from the shock of the Lockerbie bombing with Pan Am flight 103 The FLORIDA TODAY newspaper added balance by a cover page splash article of Christmas greeting from space 20 years earlier from mankind's first manned mission to space, the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

40 years ago in 1973, a Christmas celebration in Space with the Skylab, a space walk was planned on Christmas day to photograph a comet. The astronauts even made up a Christmas tree out of food cans and sent the image back to mission control on Earth. It was a welcome diversion as the mood across the nation was much different as Watergate was unraveling to President Nixon's undoing. In the local news,the much anticipated new Beeline Expressway 528 was reported as just being finished.

There was excitement in the air, as Apollo 8 was launched early part of December 1968. The newspaper reported a quarter million people had come to the Space Coast to witness the launch of the first manned mission to the Moon. On Christmas eve, a special broadcast was sent to the Earth where each member of the crew recited a passage from Genesis. Astronaut Borman closed the message with the words "good night,good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you -- all of you on the good Earth." In other news, families in East Berlin torn apart by the cold war were allowed to cross the Iron Curtain for one day and visit their separated families and friends. Nixon was President and shared a Yuletide greeting to the American public. In the local paper Ron Jon’s advertised several Christmas specials including skateboard for only $1.50 and water beds for $14.94.

Fifty years ago was one of the saddest Christmases ever for the nation, as President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated the month earlier. All across the nation a quiet and serene Christmas was held by most, Jackie Kennedy spent Christmas with her late husband’s parents. Locally the newspaper advertised activities such as an invitation to the public to visit the Yule displays at Patrick Air Force base. The “Toast of the Coast” Ramon’s restaurant was closed Christmas day but had a special meal planned for Christmas dinner and a special appearance with live entertainment. Another establishment the Gemini Room in Cocoa Beach had an upcoming appearance by the popular musical group The Ink Spots.

A hundred years ago the President of the US, Woodrow Wilson planted a tree, an American Elm, on the White House lawn and days later signed the Federal Reserve Act into law on December 23rd. A local newspaper was full of tips including quotations to go with presents of their day. It reported for sets of books of famous authors, “The chief glory of every nation arises from its authors”, for a useful purse “the best friends are in the purse." The sporting department of John A. Fiske in Cocoa advertised a special with cut glass, the famous Bradley & Hubbard brand of brass goods and everything for hunting and fishing.

In ending this short article, remember the words of a good President, Calvin Coolidge, "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."

For more stories on Christmas in Space visit NASA website Christmas in the Heavens

And for a YouTube documentary.

Works Cited

Cocoa Tribune December 20, 1963, December 1913

NASA website

East Coast Advocate

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