On the night before Christmas in 1968, astronauts in the Apollo 8 spacecraft were circling the moon. That day, they had become the first humans to travel to the dark side of the moon. Astronauts wouldn’t actually land on the lunar surface until the following July. In a live TV broadcast to earth that Tuesday night, the three-man crew of Apollo 8 read the account of the Creation from the book of Genesis, read first by Bill Anders, and then by Jim Lovell and Frank Borman. On an episode of “The Wonder Years,” aired in the late 1980’s, the Arnold family watches this lunar broadcast, but there’s no indication that it’s happening at Christmas-time.
The Christmas Eve TV schedule that night included “Julia,” with Diahann Carroll, the Red Skelton show, and a made-for-TV movie called “The Smugglers.” But the big show was from outer space, as Borman concluded with “Good night, good luck, a merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth.” Christmas Eve 1968, yesterday in La Crosse.