Lost in space?

Their room was at one end of the hallway. The swinging door that opened into the living room was at the other end of the hallway. On Christmas morning, we were not allowed beyond the swinging door until Mom and Dad were awake and could escort us into the living room. It was all that I could do, not to sneak down the hallway and carefully open that door and see what Santa had left. I knew, though, that the door squeaked and that my older brother’s room was right beside it. His favorite thing of all to do was to tell on me. I was sure that he was in his room awake, listening for the door to sound the alarm. He probably looked more forward to getting me yelled at than he did to getting Christmas presents. I wasn’t going to get an early peek into that room. Besides, Santa may not have even visited us yet.

I laid awake most of the night in my single bed, thinking of all those toys in the Sears catalog. I must have laid there for hours, unable to sleep. Was Santa already in there? Had he found the cookies and milk that I had left? What about that naughty list? Did he know about me lighting the fireworks in the house and “ruining the kitchen table?” Did he know about me taking my brother’s BB gun apart to see how it worked? If so, surely he understood why I had to throw it in Lake Luck after finding that I couldn’t put it back together. There was no other choice but to lie when my brother asked if I’d seen it. Santa must surely understand how hard it is to be a little brother. I had left Santa some Space-Food Sticks as a bribe. He’d take care of me, or was bribing Santa another offense?

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I got up from the bed and walked across the hall to Mom and Dad’s bedroom door with my pillow in hand. At some point, I fell asleep there on the hardwood floor in the cold dark hallway. I wanted to be sure that I was the first to know when it was Christmas. At some point, later in the night, I awoke and found myself back in my bed. I could hear noises coming down the hallway from the direction of the living room. It was Santa! I wanted to sneak down the hallway and see him for myself but was afraid to risk it. He might have questioned me about the incident with my brother’s BB gun. Somehow, knowing that Santa had finally arrived ended my sleeplessness.

When I next opened my eyes, I could see the first glimmering light of morning through my tiny bedroom window. It was Christmas! I ran out of my room and straight to Mom and Dad’s door. I began beating on their door, “Wake up, wake up!” It was Christmas, and I knew I could get away with waking them. They took their sweet time but finally came out. My older brother and sister were also up and waiting for my parents by this time. Christmas lay through that door at the end of the hall. That was no longer our living room; it was the most magical place of all to 7-year-old me. As a child, nothing compared to Christmas!

The Christmas procession moved down the hallway with Mom and Dad in the lead. Dad pushed the door open, and the hallway was immediately awash with the ambient glow from the colored lights on the tree. Down the two steps into the sunken living room, we went. The first thing that I noticed was the empty glass of Ovaltine beside the cookie-crumb-littered plate. Two empty Space-Food Stick wrappers accompanied the dish. Then, what I saw under the tree rocked my world!

This was the Christmas 1969. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had become the first men to land on the moon in July of that year. It seemed that every person on Earth had been glued to the television to watch the grainy black and white images of Apollo 11. It had been “One huge step for mankind.” It was more than that for “kidkind.” It changed the trajectory of our lives. Science, for the first time, had become relevant.

Under the tree, there just to the left of our huge console television, was a replica of the Apollo 11 lunar module that Buzz Aldrin had piloted to and from the moon’s surface. There were various other toys related to the space missions too. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins action figures included. Those three men from the Apollo 11 moon landing were heroes of the day. They were God-like to kids such as me.

I think this was probably the conception of the word “nerd.” The word was yet to be born, but the generation from which it would arise had arrived. There is no doubt that NASA gave birth to a new age of science and technology. The children who sat glued to those black and white screens became the men who spurred the rapid growth of all things technical. Today, a single cell phone holds more computing power than all of those amber-screened computers at Cape Canaveral in 1969. They all share a kinship which today puts virtually all information at our fingertips. Unfortunately, the downside is that those same children staring blankly into screens in 1969 are still staring blankly into screens, along with the entire world. Did we create the monster that will devour us? Was our faith “Lost in Space?” Did science replace faith in God?

Wait—this was supposed to be a Christmas story! I believe it still can be if we all remember the true meaning of Christmas. A Savior was born in a tiny manger with only a handful of witnesses, yet the entire world was to know about it in a short time, all without the aid of any technology (other than the spoken word). That information is more critical to our lives than any additional information we will ever gain by staring into screens.

I suppose it is okay for me as a young boy to have had heroes such as those men who walked upon the moon. However, it is wrong to place any man ahead of God, who created all of the heavens. Too, it is wrong to put any information above the knowledge of His will. Let’s all remember that Jesus Christ was born of God; was God and lived here among us as man. His work was finished upon the cross when he gave up his life here on Earth so that we may all have life eternal with our Father in Heaven.

If you would, this Christmas, lay down your “devices,” turn away from your screens, and share the word of Jesus Christ with your families and friends. We should celebrate Christmas and rejoice in the greatest gift ever given. The gift of salvation and eternal life through His finished work upon the cross. That was indeed “one huge step for mankind.” Merry Christmas to you all. Let’s all prosper together in the coming year through the knowledge of the birth of a Savior.

Michael “Mike” Braswell is a graduate of Swainsboro High School and Swainsboro Technical College. He returned to Swainsboro after many years of living on the coast with his family. He loves fishing and hunting as well as traveling. Braswell is now retired and, when not partaking in one of the three before-mentioned activities, he spends much of his time with his three children and four grandchildren.

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