How a Six Year Old Discovered the Meaning of Christmas

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The Christmas of 1968 was when Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to circle the moon. As a six year old in that era, all I wanted to be when I grew up was an astronaut. Well, the toy makers at Mattel certainly had their finger on the pulse of young boys in 1968 with their development of the toy astronaut, Major Matt Mason.

All I talked about wanting for Christmas in 1968 was a Major Matt Mason action figure and all of the various accessories that all had to be bought separately. Space exploration and Major Matt Mason was all I thought about during the run up to Christmas that year.

I did have some concerns about whether my Christmas wishes would come true. I was raised in a financially conservative family. Conspicuous spending was certainly not a trait my father portrayed and my mother always found ways to stretch a dollar further than most. At best, I thought I would get the Major Matt Mason action figure since all of the accessories such as the moon station, moon crawlers, etc were quite pricey.

By now, you’re wondering what any of this has to do with the meaning of Christmas. Well, bear with me for a few more paragraphs.

They way we spent our Christmases was to go to my Dad’s parents on Christmas Eve for dinner, to exchange presents and go to Christmas Eve services. Then Christmas morning was just my parents, my two sisters and I. Christmas dinner was at my Mom’s parents and more exchanging of presents. (A kid’s dream comes true… 24 hours of eating and getting presents!)

Well, my Mother must have really sensed my enthusiasm for Major Matt Mason. Apparently, she clued in my aging Grandparents as to everything they needed to know about Major Matt Mason and all of his cool accessories.

Starting off on Christmas Eve, as Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were the first humans to circle the moon on Apollo 8, my Grandmother and Grandfather gave me a Major Matt Mason action figure. I was completely thrilled!

Then on Christmas morning, my Mom and Dad said that the Major needed a vehicle and jetpack to travel his way around the moon. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! I was in orbit with Apollo 8 that morning.

When we ventured off that afternoon to my other Grandparents, I was still as happy as a six your old could get. I brought all of my new gear with me to play with and was quite content. When present time came, I almost launched myself to the moon when to my shock and amazement my Grandparents gave me the Major Matt Mason Moon Station!

That Christmas evening when I went off to bed, I set up all of my Major Matt Mason gear on my bedroom floor and turned on the blinking beacon on top of the moon station. I climbed up in bed a laid there staring at my gifts. My mind started reflecting back over the past 24 hours and what stuck out in my mind was the look of joy on my parents’ and grandparents’ faces as I expressed my excitement over my gifts. That thought, of their expressions made me feel warm inside because I knew that they sincerely loved me. And I sincerely loved them. I realized at that moment that my love for them was not conditional on the gifts they gave me. I loved them simply because of who they were and their consistent unconditional love for me.

These thoughts turned to the Christmas story the minister of our church read during Christmas Eve service and his sermon about God’s unconditional love for all of mankind. It was at that moment that I truly understood what Christmas meant. It was also at that moment that I started to change from a typical self centered child to began the maturing process of thinking about and doing for others.

As Christmas approaches each year I reflect back on the Christmas of 1968 and reflect upon whether I’ve continued to live a life that demonstrates unconditional love of my family and caring for others as I care for myself.

As Thanksgiving ended this year and my thoughts began to turn to Christmas, I logged onto ebay and typed in a search for “Major Matt Mason”. And when the search results popped up I felt like that clock spun backward 36 years. There was the Major and all of his gear that someone had taken good care of for all these years. Well, I thought to myself that some people set up trains around their Christmas tree to remind them of their childhood, I decided to bid on those items and set up a Major Matt Mason moon scene around my Christmas tree.

A few days later after my packages arrived, my three teenage daughters curiously watched me setting up this “ancient” toy set, and I shared with them the story of Christmas 1968. I expressed my hope that they understand my unconditional love for them and that they too will have the same abiding love and affection for their children someday.

The world has most certainly changed over the last 36 years, but the spirit and meaning of Christmas certainly has not changed for 2,004 years and counting. So when the pressure of the season comes to bear, be it finding just the right present, having to survive an office Christmas party or dealing with a “bah humbug” relative, take a moment and reflect back on the first time you felt the glow and warmth of unconditional love fill your heart. You’ll find that the meaning of Christmas will fill you heart again. If you can’t remember back that far, take just one hour away somewhere you cannot be disturbed and read the Christmas story and think about its meaning and the power it has held over the world for more than two millennium and you too will understand the true meaning of the season.

About the Author

Rob Waite is a business writer, speaker and strategist. His works include, “The Lost Art of General Management, “The Six Figure Job Search” and the “Walking With The Wise” book series. For an interview with Rob, please call 724-934-9625. For additional information please go to http://www.robwaite.com.

Contact Information:

Rob Waite

724-934-9625

rob@robwaite.com

ROBWAITE.COM, INC.

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