I am old enough to remember when there was not a lot to the Star Wars universe. No Yoda, Darth Maul, Admiral Thrawn, Galactic Republic, etc. There was just Episode IV, the Star Wars Holiday Special (I saw it when I was 5) and a bizarre Star Wars comic book I saw in a barber shop that featured Han and Luke having an adventure on a wooden sailing ship (I swear).
During those years we had a Xmas tree with multi-colored mini-lights. I loved those lights. They were just like the stars in Star Wars, and the lights in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit, and the console lights in the Death Star laser’s control room. It’s why I like cityscapes at night. Lots of little colored lights are burned into my brain as a sense memory.
Remember, Han said that he made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (the route is 18 parsecs long – Kessel is a world known only for its spice mines, the premiere Star Wars drug). Xmas tree lights looked like glowing bits of spice to me. I imagined that Kessel was a planet with giant trees (remember, I had seen the SWHS) that grew spice, and smugglers like Han and Chewie snuck in to mining settlements built under the spice tree to pick up the shipment, with Imperials patrolling the area. Compared to the Holiday Special, and that strange comic, this was not even close to being as weird.
(Note: The bubble light in the picture above is a recent addition courtesy of my wife – it was a childhood memory of hers that I had never seen or heard of. But they are kind of cool, like eye droppers of boiling oil. Maybe they are spice boilers?)
And that is how Star Wars action figures came to be living in the little ‘landings’ of branches in my parent’s house. In later years, we added G.I. Joes to the mix and even swapped the 3.75″ action figures for space Legos. Space Legos allowed us to build an entire settlement under the tree, plus ships and people. They may be the ultimate in a sci-fi play scenario on a Xmas tree.
The whole time, for years, I was thinking: the (vertical, triangular, organic) spice ‘mines’ of Kessel. I recently recreated this for the benefit of Facebook friends:
I realize that this experience probably says a lot about me and how my imagination works. For better or worse.