Holiday Shenanigans, Spaceheads

A “Major” Christmas Eve Tradition

I grew up in the heady days of the space race, and during my “aerospace infatuation” era (roughly ages 5-15), no doll action figure was as impossibly cool as Major Matt Mason. He flew in space (very cool). He wore very believable space garb (very cool). He met …alien friends? (okay — not so believable, thus not so cool, but whatever.) Not only were Major Matt Mason toys one of my Christmas gift request staples for at least a three or four year period, but he became an annual symbol of family Christmas memories long after the last Saturn V blasted off from the Cape.

Major Matt’s body was constructed of a single flexible rubber molding over a wire skeleton that would fatigue and eventually break at the joints after so many reposes. If you ever had a “bendy” Mr. Bill, Gumby or Pokey toy, you know the syndrome. Even worse for the good Major, the faux articulated bellows at his joints made the diameter of the rubber at his elbows and knees quite narrow, so that the wire would bend most easily at that one point, and once the wire broke it didn’t take too much manhandling to completely sever a limb. That construction flaw was the genesis for a Christmas tradition in my family that continues today.

Growing up, my parents followed the German tradition of trimming the tree on Christmas Eve. (I realize this sounds bizarre to those of you who put yours up before Thanksgiving …philistines.) We also followed the tradition of adding one new ornament on the tree every year. On Christmas Eve circa 1975 or ’76, while putting the finishing touches on the tree about 8 or 9 PM (after all the stores had closed), when my mom and dad realized that we had no new ornament for that year. Being the caring and resourceful kid I was, I ran to my room to find something I could hang from the boughs of der tannenbaum. In my bottom dresser drawer, I found Major Matt’s detached lower leg. Whippy-quick, I pushed the ends of a discarded spring loop into the top of Major Matt’s leg and threaded a wire ornament hanger through it. Voilà! Instant ornament!

I took it downstairs to show my parents, who were aghast for a moment, then laughed and pronounced it be placed around the back of the tree, out of sight. I was shocked my parents allowed me to hang it, and I was quite sure that they would trash it when the tree came down. But when we took the tree down after The Feast of the Epiphany (that’s January 6th for you heathens), Major Matt Mason’s Leg was packed away with the other ornaments, and it went back up on the tree each subsequent year, gaining a more prominent location each Christmas. Even after I left home, an astronaut’s leg, amputated at the knee, was lovingly hung on my parents’ tree in my absence.

About fifteen years ago, my parents decided to sell their home to retire to a one-bedroom condo, and began clearing out much of their belongings. One day a small box came in the mail. I opened it up and there, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, was Major Matt’s leg, still hanging from the same spring loop.

And thus, the tradition continues.


[Image: Wikipedia]

  • Ha-ha-ha, that's awesome…

    Merry Christmas Tanshan!

  • When my grandparents came to visit from out of state for the holidays it was always a special treat. Grandpa would like to have a snack before bed. Once he left a donut on the dresser. Somehow it got put into one of the drawers. It soon became petrified. For several years when he came to visit, we would bring out his special donut at snake time. Alas, a friend was helping during a move, and threw it out.