by Brian G. Spare
I have received some very nice Christmas presents over the years. But the presents I remember most fondly are from my childhood and one in particular stands out as I recount the years. It was 1969, I was ten, and the excitement of ripping the wrapping paper off a gift pulled out from under the tree was still very much a part of Christmas.
July of that year had seen Apollo 11 roar from the launch pad and the dramatic first lunar landing. I had avidly followed the all the Apollo missions with wonder and awe dreaming maybe one day I too could blast off into space, a dream I still have today. Like my friends I was at the age where gluing plastic models together was my hobby of choice. Model airplanes, helicopters, ships and cars all vied for space atop my bedroom dresser. But that Christmas there was only one thing on my list and that was a model of a Saturn 5 rocket identical to the one that had blasted off from Cape Canaveral that summer. It stood nearly four feet tall, almost as tall as I was at the time. The third stage had a window so you could see the lunar lander inside just as it would have been in the real rocket and you could take it out and extend its movable legs so it could sit on your desk just like it did on the moon – cool! It was the ultimate, and that far above anything else was what I wanted for Christmas.
Of course I made no secret of my wish to Mom and Dad and two weeks before Christmas a tall box wrapped in brown paper silently took up residence in the front hall closet. It didn’t take me long to find it and I would look at it and examine it every chance I got. The box was the right height and the right weight and the same shape as the ones I’d seen in the store. It just had to be the Saturn 5 rocket, it just had to be.
(sigh) Two weeks till Christmas … Two weeks that seemed an eternity to me. But Christmas finally came and when it was time to open our presents, I made a straight line for that box now covered in wrapping paper. I looked at the tag and yes it was for me. I tore the wrapping off the box and there on the floor stood my Saturn 5 rocket. My friends would come over to help and were equally impressed as I was as the rocket took shape. Dad gave me a hand too which I think was a good excuse for him to spend some time being a kid again.
I no longer have my rocket and sadly I don’t have a picture of it either. But the image in my mind of that Saturn 5 rocket and the hours I spent painstakingly piecing it together, and the fun times spent with my friends and my Dad around that model are still fresh in my memory and will be fondly remembered for years to come. And it’s those memories which make that Christmas present is so special to me.
What will be under the tree for you this Christmas? Maybe your all time favourite present. Whatever gifts await us this Christmas, my wish for everyone is for a safe and happy holiday season and for the very best in the year ahead. Merry Christmas.