When the second teaser for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens debuted last month, I had a reaction I didn’t anticipate.I cheered.
Alone in my office, in front of the computer, with no one around me but a sleeping dog, I emitted an involuntary, yet very loud, “Yeah!” I couldn’t help myself. All it took was the first glimpse of Han Solo’s never-failing crooked smile, and Chewbacca’s welcoming grunt, and I grinned so hard my eyes teared up.
I didn’t realize how much I missed this anticipation. There’s a new Star Wars movie coming out, and I get to experience it as a parent for the first time. I think this epiphany is what pulled me over the top. Not only did I get that child-like feeling once again, but I get to watch my own children experience it as well.
It isn’t like my children haven’t had their share of Star Wars. They have seen the movies—in the Machete Order no less, followed the Clone Wars and Rebels television series, and know the characters like the backs of their hands. Heck, our oldest daughter went as Ahsoka Tano for Halloween when she as seven, and our youngest had a Star Wars-themed nursery. That’s neither here nor there, really, as neither of them has had the opportunity to see a new Star Wars we haven’t even seen yet in an actual movie theater with original cast members and Andy Serkis.
I can’t stress enough what a big deal this is for parents who grew up with the franchise.
For the brief two minutes I watched the trailer, it was 1977 again and I was watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope for the first time. Our entire family drove clear across town, as there were no theaters on my side of town in El Paso at the time, at least none that I remember. I recall being a little freaked out by the cantina creatures, but soon loved them. I remember the entire theatre sharing a regional inside joke when Han first introduced his friend, Chewie (“Chuy” is a common nickname for the name, Jesus).
I remember, just a week later, my dad actually asking me out of the blue, “You want to go see Star Wars again?” Well, that never happened before. Uh, yeah, Dad. I really do.
Little did we know this family outing would soon blossom into more than 40 years of fan frenzy, and countless memories:
- Seeing, for the first time, Star Wars action figures… on my brother’s birthday cake.
- Getting my first big screen fangirl crush, via Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones gets equal credit for this one).
- Hearing my brother and his friends in a deep discussion about how George Lucas was planning on going back and doing Episodes I, II and III, and then later doing Episodes VII, VIII and IX. “Probably won’t get to those last three,” I remember a friend saying. This was before Empire Strikes Back, mind you.
- Learning my soon-to-be husband was a closet fanboy, and buying our first set of Star Wars trading cards as a couple at the grocery store in Alpine, Texas.
- Taking my first ride on Star Tours, and later on the new Star Tours at Disneyland Park.
- Taking my daughter to see Star Wars In Concert, and watching Anthony Daniels’ great narrative.
- Having “a bad feeling about this” whole business of Disney bringing Star Wars back to theaters, until I learned J.J. Abrams was directing it. Okay, it might work.
- Finally, seeing that initial Episode VII teaser and realizing I want yet another new kind of lightsaber.
The thing is, this really isn’t about Star Wars at all, when you come right down to it. I like other movies as well.
What it’s about is getting to share something entirely new, yet very familiar with the next generation of fangirls and fanboys. Watching a new story unfold together on the giant silver screen with surround sound and an amazingly tasty overpriced bucket of popcorn. When we get home, we’ll have a whole new set of memories.
Come Christmastime, I’ll get to step into the shoes of my father and take my kids to their first new Star Wars movie experience.
I’ll get to experience something else my father never got to. I’ll get to see myself through their eyes, because I’ve been there before. And I can’t wait to be there again.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hits theaters Dec. 18.
Story originally ran April 18, 2015 in GeekMom.