Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who is this George Lucas?

We can thank my mother-in-law for introducing Star Wars into our children’s lives by getting our 5 year old son his first Star Wars LEGO set. He ripped the boxes open and within seconds our home was invaded by the Imperial Stormtroopers and the Droids.

I was mortified.

Star Wars?!!! He is waaay too young for Star Wars!

It wasn’t the complexity of the building process I was concerned about, because that never seemed to be a problem for our pint-size engineer. What bothered me much more was a matter of introducing complex adult issues into his immature mind, and the challenge that creates for me as his parent. But, like it or not, the door was open and there was no going back. From that day on, my son turned into a miniature Star Wars maniac. So far, he’s been mostly preoccupied with recreating cosmic wars against his little sister. Along the way he somehow acquired a prodigious amount of information about the characters and the plot and various twists and turns in the storyline. He learned the difference between the Imperial and the Rebel blaster, the who’s who and what’s what of the Imperial Army and the Rebel Alliance, and all the whys and therefores of the narrative that molded the worldview of generation after generation since the first movie was released. He bought a Star Wars Visual Dictionary with his own money(!) that looks more like Encyclopedia Britannica to me.

Now, all this wouldn’t be so surprising if it wasn’t until this afternoon, years after the initial encounter, that he saw his very first Star Wars movie. Episode IV, to be more precise, which I picked up from our local library earlier today. Watching him watch the movie was as much (or more) fun as watching the movie itself. It was as if he had all these loose pieces of a puzzle, and he finally saw how they all fit together, he could finally place them in their exact spots in the larger, 4-D story-puzzle. His delight was quite contagious. During dinner, he continued chatting enthusiastically about all the fascinating trivia he picked up during the afternoon Star Wars extravaganza. In the course of the conversation, my husband casually mentioned George Lucas and what his intent might have been for the unfolding of the various episodes in a certain sequence.

George… Lucas?!!
Our son muttered hesitantly… And who is this George Lucas? There was no doubt that he was utterly confused. You could tell that he was scrolling down the imaginary database of Star Wars names and faces, from Emperor Palpatine through Chewbacca and Ewoks, but there was no suitable match for the name “George Lucas”.

It was now our turn to be confused. How is it possible that with all these years of borderline obsession with the Jedi and their pecking order, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, and R2D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi, our son never ever heard the name George Lucas? We looked at each other and burst into laughter.

Hmm …George Lucas…. George Lucas…. Well, he is kind of like God to the world of Star Wars. Without him, there would be no Star Wars, nor the galaxy, nor anybody or anything else belonging to this galaxy far, far away. He created it all. This amazing world exists because it first existed in the mind of George Lucas.

It took several minutes for the news to settle in his shaken-to-the core 9 year old mind screaming for a paradigm shift. Until this moment of revelation he was so preoccupied with the fascinating universe which George Lucas had created that for a brief while he simply couldn’t contain the information about the existence of the creator of that universe.

There…there is a George Lucas… there IS a George Lucas and I never even knew it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No room

It shows up every year, some time in early December. Out of the dust-covered box lying dormant on the dirty garage floor, buried under loads of other dusty boxes, untouched for eleven months. When it first appeared in the middle of our living room, years ago, my husband and I were newly married, young and quite naïve. At the time, our lives were simple and our furniture few. Happy and ignorant, we went out to shop one of those after-Christmas clearance sales. We came back jubilant, hauling in the biggest Christmas tree we could afford. The tree was beautiful and tall. When put together branch by branch, it filled at least a half of our living room, imposing its glorious presence on all this empty space. We loved our tree.

Then, a friend gave us his old TV because he was moving to Australia. Later on, we bought an armoire to accommodate our newly-acquired TV and a matching stand to hold our collection of CDs and VCRs (DVDs were not invented yet). Over the years, we kept accumulating more and more stuff – a DIY project here, and a curb-side mall find there; then came our first child with all his accompanying paraphernalia and soon afterward, another with all the mentioned paraphernalia of a different, she color. So, bit by bit, mountain by mountain stuff kept marching across our doorstep. The stuff we needed, or thought we or somebody we know needed or might need some day kept ringing our doorbell. Slowly but surely, our huge house started filling up all its empty places, obliterating the memory of the simple life we once used to live.

The tree also seemed to grow bigger and bigger each year, transforming from a beautiful symbol of everlasting life that the birth of God’s Son brought into the world, into a household monstrosity, turning our home upside down each Christmas season. Every December, in order to make room for its ever-expanding (or so it seemed) limbs, we have to move the sofa into the guest bedroom, and the keyboard with its stand into our son’s bedroom, and the spare desk into the dining room, and the bench from the guest bedroom…

Honey, where are we going to put the bench?!!!

Making room for the tree has become our number one Christmas chore…er… I meant to say tradition.

This is insane! We need to hire movers or a chiropractor to set up the darn thing. We should just get rid of it.
I turned to the tree as if it’s its fault.

We don’t have room for you! No room.

The silent echo reverberated with familiarity. No room… no room… no room… in… the… inn…

With sudden realization, a mess of conflicting feelings that must have torn the insides of the Bethlehemian inn-keeper settled in my stomach. I could imagine myself standing at the door of our house, eyeing a tired, frost-bitten couple with the baby on the way…

I am so sorry, but we have no room for you anywhere in the house…. However, there is a bit of space in our garage among all the boxes, and garden tools, and discarded toys, and bicycles… if you don’t mind…

I took a step away from the tree, staggered by its quiet testimony of the clutter overcrowding my life. The space and the time. What else got pushed out by the relentless torrent of unrestrained real and perceived needs, wants, desires, responsibilities, demands, requirements? Is all my worthless junk swallowing what is really precious before my very eyes? Do I even know the difference?!!! And, how in the world did I come to resent something I used to love and enjoy?

The evergreen assayer stood still, his lights blinking brightly.

Perhaps… what I really need… for Christmas… is to just to make… a little more room… in my life. So the Life Himself can come in.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


During our recent visit to my husband’s family, my sister-in-law, who is the incarnation of care and sensitivity to the needs of others (qualities which for some reason seem strangely lacking in our little family), suggested that she and I decorate Mom’s and Dad’s place for Christmas. Neither of them has the health and energy for that kind of endeavor, and it would make their home more cheery and festive during the long, and sometimes lonely holiday season. Kids jumped at the idea, looking for any excuse to get away from the grueling vacation homework drills. The decorating party got quickly on the way with moving the furniture around to make room for the tree and getting the boxes with ornaments out of the garage. The kids carefully took them out, unwrapped each of them, celebrating the unveilings as if it’s Christmas already. The process went on for a while when they came across a tiny royal looking figurine.

This doesn’t look like an ornament
, announced my observant daughter. It doesn’t have a hook.

Oh, it’s a part of the nativity scene, darling, responded my mother-in-law. You know, I had that set all these years, and I never set it up. If you like it and think you can use it, you should just take it with you.

Since free offers is rarely passed in our family, the kids excitedly unwrapped the rest of the pieces – the sheep and the donkeys, Mary and Joseph, the remaining two wise men, a shepherd and a shepherdess.

Where is baby Jesus?
I asked suspiciously.

Hmm, it looks like He’s missing…

We all dived into the box filled with tissue paper, but no Jesus was found.

Jesus is missing,
I told my mother-in-law. How strange… maybe that’s why you never set it up – it’s defective. Imagine that, Christmas without Jesus...

My words lingered for a few moments before silence settled on the room.

Hon… you don’t have to imagine… just look around - it’s all over the place.

I sat slowly down, sobered by the thought. In real life, just like in the defective nativity scene, more often than not Jesus is missing from Christmas. We may have all the other props in place, even the sheep and the donkeys, but the heart of the stage of history remains empty. The solemn admonition of the incomplete set inched a bit too close to home.

Mom, mom!!! We found Him!
I was jolted out of my reveries by the excited screams of my children who obviously didn’t give up on their search.

We found Jesus!

May you and I, like the children who wouldn’t give up the quest until it is completed, also find Jesus at the heart of not only Christmas but also at the heart of every day before and after.