Our Star Wars Christmas

For weeks all eyes have been on the calendar waiting for December 18 and the opening of The Force Awakens, the latest Star Wars film.
Now I am a Star Wars enthusiast but I was overwhelmed by the devotion of the guy in Lafayette, CA who made this 700 pound Death Star for his roof in October and proclaimed he would not take it down until after the new film was released.

This topped everything I had been reading for months as fans eagerly looked forward to a new episode. I was especially eager to see it since they reassembled many of the original actors from the first films. Harrison Ford is back as Hans Solo along with Carrie Fisher once again playing Princess Leia.

Our grand-daughter Juliana is a hard core fan of all things Star Wars. I was not surprised when she told me at Thanksgiving that she had tickets for the opening night at the Uptown Theater in DC. Like thousands of other fans across the US she had ordered as soon as they were available on Fandango.

Yesterday grand-son Jamie Fox posted this picture taken at an opening event in San Francisco area.

I was so happy to see his smiling face as he kneeled close to R2D2  - "a real one from Lucasfilm."

Later I laughed out loud when his Mom, my daughter Robin, reminded him of a Star Wars backstory in our family.

# Star Wars Christmas Memories: Round 3

Christmas 1997 is known in our family as "The Star Wars Christmas."

Jim and I were really looking forward to Christmas that year. Robin and Brad were flying in from Los Angeles with their three young boys. The rest of our immediate family lived in the DC Area so the whole of our family would be together for the holidays. Jim was determined that we plan things to make it as memorable for everybody as we could.

When he read the write ups about the Smithsonian exhibit "The Magic of Myth" Jim announced "this is IT. We will all go to the Star Wars exhibit together."  I was quite skeptical about it.  In 1977 when Star Wars initially appeared in the theaters Jim and I had schedules packed with work responsibilities and family doings.  For recreation time we did not include long lines to see what looked like a "kids flick."  Sorry  - - apologies to George Lucas.

 Jim was stubbornly determined and he blocked all of my objections. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I countered, "we ought to at least look at the films before we make the final commitment." He agreed to that.  We borrowed our son's VHS set.  So Jim and I met those marvelous characters for the first time on a table top television in our den. OK. That did it. The plan was set.

Early December 23rd we set out to the Smithsonian Exhibit in a caravan of two vans. We had a group of 11 - Jim and me, Jimmy and wife Monica, daughter Karen, Robin and her husband Brad and 5 grandchildren ages ranging from 11year old to 18 months.
Jim insisted that we leave home early in order to get parking spaces near the Air Space Museum and we did. Our little crowd stepped into the lobby as the doors opened at 10 am. The lines inside were not heavy so very quickly we entered the world George Lucas created.

The exhibit featured all the stunning costumes and other artifacts from the film -  from Jabba the Hutt in his cave to a display with the small robot R2D2 and golden Threepio. For the adults there also were fascinating panels explaining all the influences on George Lucas as he wrote the scripts. Those influences ranged  from Saturday morning Flash Gordon space serials to the ideas of Joseph Campbell. This was not a kids flick - it was the story of a quest!

Step back in time for a virtual visit to the 1997 exhibit: The Magic of Myth for a sense of the flavor and scope to the exhibit.

Photography must not have been allowed in the exhibit because I do not have any pictures and I promise you I would have been taking plenty if I could have.

The only pictures I have are taken in the cafeteria with everyone gnawing on a hot dog for a fast lunch rather than spend more time away from the exhibit.

I did come home with this silly souvenir Ewok cup - in fact I bought one for everybody. Maybe I had a vision of all of us drinking coffee or hot chocolate together using these cups. Sad to report, I am the only one who still has their cup.

Jim was already a fan of Joseph Campbell and his writings so those panels elevated his appreciation of the film to a new level. I also loved connecting with the Campbell ideas to deepen my understanding of the film  as well as seeing all the "artifacts". Every one of us had something special that caught our attention even the youngsters.  Danny, almost 4 years old, was fascinated by "Darf" Vader with his mask and deep voice.

We were caught up in the "magic of myth" so Jim and I bought the re-mastered and improved video set. As soon as we got home everyone gathered in the den to watch the films while the visions and images  from the exhibit were fresh and strong in the Force. It was great!!!!  Jim had been so right.

But there is more to this story for us.
Myth and magic don't just fade away you know.

Even though I had been cool to the idea in the beginning the imagination, images, and storytelling of George Lucas and the films pulled me in.  I had just started performing as a storyteller in 1997. While I watched the Star Wars films over and over and over I learned a lot of basics about how to seamlessly knit a story. And I love the story and the wonderful characters.

After that Christmas when we went to CA to visit Robin and her family I took the Star Wars films, until she bought her own set. The kids watched the films again and again with Jim and me. We talked Star Wars trivia. Played Star wars games. Read Star Wars books. I especially liked the after-novels by Timothy Zahn.

I thought of our grand-daughter Juliana when she was standing in line outside the Uptown theater the other night waiting to see "The Force Awakens". Opening this post you see grand-son Jamie with his old friend R2D2 in San Francisco. His brother Dan, who was out of town, commented - "I hate you." and I understood he wanted to be there too because I have to admit I felt a tinge of that same wish when Jamie's picture came through on my Face Book feed.

My "Hope: that our family will share a Star Wars film together again. It's a lasting connection.

Thank you, Jim.

1 comment:

Still the Lucky Few said...

My children were preteens when Star Wars came to our town. A friends and I took a carload of kids to the movie, which I consented to include into my very busy life only after a great deal of pressure from my young gang. I didn't know anything about the importance of this movie, but they knew, and they were determined to go! All this, before Facebook, and streaming news and instagram. They loved it, and soon the buzz about the movie was everywhere. It resonated with thousands of others as well. I can't believe the interest is alive to this day, with a huge fan base still intensely involved.