Christmas away from family is often hard. But Silverton native
Don Pettit and his crew mates had fun aboard the International
NASA's psychological support team arranged for holiday decorations
and presents for the crew to enjoy. The crew had Christmas day
off other than daily maintenance tasks. A Christmas tree flag was
hung on a wall and commander Ken Bowersox noted that a bow placed
over a hatch had earned them the "best decorated space station
award." Each of the crew had a private conversation with
their families and were able to watch as their families opened
presents via a system similar to internet video.
Pettit told his
wife Michelle that he had finished making his Christmas present
for her. But she's going to have to wait
a bit to get it. The next time a spacecraft will return from the
space station will be the STS-114 shuttle in March, Pettit's
ride home. This isn't the first time Pettit's made
a present for her. She said that he handmade her wedding ring -
out of gold he panned and silver which he recovered from used photographic
film. She notes it's quite beautiful and she's wondering
what he's made in space.
In addition, the crew talked to NASA
boss Sean O'Keefe. O'Keefe mentioned that he had talked
with Bowersox and Pettit's wives earlier in the day and Pettit
the kids (2 year old twins) screaming in the background when you
were talking to Micki?" and O'Keefe replied "Both
kids were taking a nap."
On Christmas Eve Bowersox said "We've
done some decorating. We'll make some Christmas cookies tonight.
Who knows what Santa may have left in the morning?"
morning Bowersox radioed to mission control "When we woke
up this morning we noticed that the three little stockings we had
hung under our tree were full. We think the psyche support group
must have given Santa Claus our address.
I don't know how
he got in - maybe through those air ducts."
He added "We
know there must be some really good things inside - maybe a lump
of coal for me."
Pettit, a nuclear physicist, said he was
hoping for a lump of uranium.
Pettit had brought into space an
unusual musical instrument - a Didgeridoo, an aboriginal Australian
wind instrument. Pettit played the Didgeridoo while Bowersox sang "Rudolph
the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - undoubtedly the very first
time "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was played on
a Didgeridoo in space - or possibly anywhere.
Nyberg replied "That was awesome - thank you
very much. We're rolling down here." Nyberg told the
crew that she had brought in snicker-doodles, Hershey kiss cookies,
and some brownies and Bowersox replied, "We're dying
for snicker-doodles up here." Nyberg promised the crew that
she'd have a bunch for them when they return to Earth.
asked "Have you seen Santa Claus yet? He hadn't
come to my house this morning and I'm a little worried." and
Bowersox scolded "You've been a bad girl!" Nyberg
said she didn't
even get a lump of coal in her stocking so she was pretty certain that her
house was just missed. Bowersox said "We saw Santa over Australia
last night and we saw a few flashes over Africa." and Nyberg
asked "If you see him, let him know he hasn't been
to my house yet and I need some presents under my tree."
"We'll try to send him a signal by Didgeridoo code
when we're up near the North Pole," Pettit replied.
of Bowersox's presents was a harmonica so he and Pettit entertained
mission control's afternoon shift with a harmonica and Didgeridoo
duet of "Jingle Bells."
Pettit noted, "This is certainly a Christmas to remember – it
couldn't be better. We're having the time of our lives.
I get to work sunup to sundown and sunup to sundown 16 times a
For Christmas dinner Pettit was "looking forward
to a nice bag of turkey, followed by a bag of stuffing, and maybe
a bag of apricot cobbler."
By Philip Chien