May the force be with you, Santa


Hey, y’all. I don’t know what I am more excited about this season: The new Star Wars movie or Christmas. They both give me goosies when I think about them.

Christmas because of the gifts, the food and to say Happy Birthday Baby J. But Star Wars has been such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. There is just something so special about that series to me, and of course a lot of other people feel the same way.

I saw the first Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope, when I was 5 and I was in love. So much so that when I was 7 and it was still playing at the Bruton Terrace Dollar Theatre, I saw it 22 times more. My mom would give me a couple of bucks on Saturday just to get me out of the house and I would go see it again. Sometimes watching it two times in a row. I would sit in the front row and lip-sync the dialogue to the movie. When I couldn’t sit still any longer, I would act out the scenes pretending I had a light saber. Until I was asked to sit back down. I was only asked to leave once.

I am embarrassed to say that I did not see The Empire Strikes Back until it made it to the dollar theater. It had been out for nearly 10 months before I found out about the whole Darth is my daddy thing. Being poor was a bitch.

Return of the Jedi came out when I was 11 and my mom took me to see it opening weekend. It was packed at that theater in Mesquite. We saw it at the same General Cinema that I would work at all through high school. Return of the Jedi, even now, remains one of the all-time best movies ever made. That’s just my opinion, but if you don’t agree, you are just wrong. I will not waver on this point. It had everything: Ewoks in a battle on Endor, Jabba the freakin’ Hutt, the pathetic “death” of Boba Fett and a conclusion that showed the ghosts of Luke’s mentors and father. I still get choked up at that scene.

The Christmas after Return of the Jedi came out, my mom asked me what I wanted from Santa. I was too old to believe in that Polar Bear but we kept up appearances for my sister. She knew she didn’t have to ask — I wanted all things Star Wars. I especially wanted a stuffed Wicket the Ewok doll. He was like the coolest teddy bear you ever saw. I wanted as many action figures as I could get. I already had a bunch but of course I wanted every single one of them. Obsessed children can be so selfish. I had the Millennium Falcon and an X-wing fighter, but I didn’t have the Jabba the Hutt playset. If you turned Jabba’s head, his wormy tail would move. It was the coolest thing ever.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my grandmother’s and drove back late that night so we could be in our own beds on Christmas morning. I remember being in the back seat of my mother’s van with my sister pointing to passing airplanes in the sky and telling her it was Santa. She was so excited. We both were — it was Christmas! It was a long ride home and we both fell asleep. When we got back to our cute little duplex we lived in, Mom sent us upstairs to go back to sleep. My sister and I were so sleepy we didn’t notice that something was different in our living room.

Apparently we had been robbed while we were at my grandma’s house. They took every single one of our Christmas gifts. They wiped us out completely. My mother came upstairs and woke us up to tell us the bad news. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her. To have to tell her kids that there were no gifts from her or Santa. My sister said, we will still have gifts from Santa. Mom, trying to keep the magic of Santa alive said, “He had already been there and they stole the stuff he left for you, too.” I think that was the last year my sister believed in Santa. People suck.

Mom called the police, they came. It was very surreal. I think they even took a fruitcake that some lady at my mom’s job had given her. There was a security gate on the back door and the front door was intact, so the police had no idea how they got into the house. My heart broke as I overheard Mom tell the police all the gifts that were stolen. She got us every single thing my sister and I asked for: the Jabba playset, 20-plus action figures and a case to keep them in shaped like Darth Vader’s head and the stuffed Ewok, a jam box and a little TV for my room. She even got my sister the girl Ewok with the pink hoodie thing. She must have spent a fortune on our stuff. She had two jobs and worked her ass off to provide for us. This was going to be the best Christmas ever. But people suck.

My mom though, kept our spirits up. The day after Christmas, she went and rebought us a bunch of the gifts we had lost. I got my Jabba playset. I got a bunch of action figures, and we both got our stuffed Ewoks. We had a delayed Christmas but it was still a great and memorable one.

A few days later, I opened my closet door and noticed insulation from the attic on the floor. I told my mom and she immediately called the police again. I had cracked the case wide open. In my head I was Inspector Gadget and the Hardy Boys all rolled into one. It turned out that our horrible neighbors that lived in the adjoining duplex had cut a hole through our attic wall and entered our house through my closet. Long story short, they were arrested and we got back most of our Christmas gifts over the next few weeks.

I was in Star Wars heaven. I now had two of almost everything. I must have had 50 Star Wars action figures. I wish I would have been smart enough to save them and put them away. I would have a collection worthy of a nerdgasm but I gave a bunch to my cousin Jeremy. They had an offer on the back of the action figure package that if you sent something like 20 proofs of purchase in, you would get a free Emperor action figure with glowing red eyes. Well hell, we had enough proofs of purchase to get one for me and one for Jeremy. We cut them out, put them in an envelope and sent them to Hasbro. In four to six weeks, we started to watch the mail very closely. Jeremy received his at about the six-week mark. Not mine — weeks went by and still nothing. I remember complaining to one of my teachers and she told me to write Hasbro a letter. Maybe it had gotten lost of something. So I did just that, I used my letter writing skills, that I had just learned in school and sent my very business-like but heartfelt letter. It started with “Dear Sirs” — because back then that is how we were taught — and ended with a very stern, “I look forward to your immediate response, Sincerely, Mr. James Love.”

Respond they did. About a month later I received an apology letter. It said that due to the overwhelming response from the Star Wars fans that they ran out and had to make more. They informed me that I was at the top of the list when they came in. They apologized for the delay asked for me to please be patient but my Emperor would arrive eventually. Three months later it came. He was super cool, his eyes were demonic and reminded me of how much I disliked him in the movie. I made Darth Vader throw him off everything — the coffee table, the side of the tub … I must have killed him a thousand times. The package from Hasbro also came with a set of die cast metal figurines as an apology for them being so late. It was awesome. Star Wars had once again rocked my world.

J.J. Abrams, do with The Force Awakens what George Lucas did for my generation. If you ruin Star Wars, I will personally push you into the Sarlacc’s pit.

Love more, bitch less and may the force be with you. XOXO, Cassie Nova.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2015.