A trio of astronauts are celebrating the holidays in space this year. The three-person crew of Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson of NASA, and Thomas Pesquet of the European SPace Agency (ESA) beamed down a special holiday message, sharing how they are celebrating Christmas 220 miles above the Earth.

For me, its all about family, we always travel to meet up with our family because we’re dispersed all over the country,” Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough said in a video posted to NASA’s YouTube account. “The season is typically thought of as getting things around Christmas, but we as a family try to think of the giving aspect. Giving of our many talents, our resources and time to others less fortunate.

Whitson added that her experience in space has changed her perspective, and heightened her Christmas spirit. “I think being onboard the ISS gives us a slightly different perspective of Christmas,” she explained. “Seeing the planet as a whole, that reinforces, I think, that we should live as one people and strive for peace.”

The crew of Expedition 50 is celebrating Christmas in space by sharing their family traditions and food.
The crew of Expedition 50 is celebrating Christmas in space by sharing their family traditions and food. 

Pesquet — who is only the 10th French astronaut to go to space — said this year he will miss his large family, but being in space is one epic excuse to miss family dinner.

“I was born in a very big family, I had 25 cousins and for most of them, the only time to catch up was around Christmas, he explained. This year, I won’t be able to be there, of course, but Ill think of them, I’ll try to give them a call, catch up as much as I can, and make the most of this opportunity to look at the earth and reflect on what Christmas means to us as individuals.”

Pesquet snapped a photo of a present -- an inflatable Airbus A380 -- that was sent up on the latest cargo resupply ship.
Pesquet snapped a photo of a present -- an inflatable Airbus A380 -- that was sent up on the latest cargo resupply ship. 

Christmas is about sharing and that’s what the international trio plans to do. They have a hearty menu planned for the big day and will share food from each of their cultures — including some special French delicacies that Pesquet enjoyed as a child.

Their dinner menu will include chicken supreme, ox tongue, cider, hot cocoa, turkey, fruit salad, green beans, corn bread stuffing and mashed potatoes. And because no Christmas dinner would be complete without dessert, the crew will munch on cranberry cobbler and chocolate cake.

NASA's Peggy Whitson poses for a festive picture in the cupola.
NASA's Peggy Whitson poses for a festive picture in the cupola. 

“We’re going to eat very well at Christmas,” Kimbrough said.

The trio will be able to connect with their Earth-bound loved ones via phone. “We’re obviously going to miss our family members and wish we could be with them,” explained Kimbrough, “but we’ll have a great time up here and will reflect on what this whole season means to us and our families.”

Photos via NASA, NASA/ESA/T. Pesquet