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My Very Own Han Solo Blaster

Shortly after my wife and I had seen the last episode of the Star Wars Saga (The Rise of Skywalker) we found ourselves engrossed in conversations about what that 9 movie series had meant to us over the many decades of our lives.  Before we knew it, we were reminiscing about when we had seen the original Star Wars movie for the very first time, and how we were instantly drawn in, and mesmerized by the possibility of there being “a galaxy far, far away”, where heroes and villains battled, and such adventures might take place.  I think just about every kid  from the 70’s & 80’s wanted to either be Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker at some point in time; but not me, I wanted to be Han Solo.

Before oil was discovered on their land in the early 1980's and changed their lives, Grandma and Grandpa lived a very simple farm life here in Ohio.  In fact, even after four oil wells came to change their life tremendously, their life was quiet and serene; although they did splurge on a few luxuries from time to time; a new pole building, a house in Florida, a new truck or a pretty diamond watch for a special wife.  But in those early days of my childhood, the farm provided much of what all of us ever needed, and Grandma and her daughters would can and freeze food stuffs that were grown during the summer months, and there was always an ample supply of beef.

They may have lived on a very tight budget, but we little one’s never realized it.  To us, Grandma and Grandpa were the richest people around.  They never really bought much for us, they didn’t need to, but once in awhile they’d give us a little trinket at our birthdays, or a special treat at Halloween to surprise us.  And while she always wanted to before the oil money came in, they couldn’t always afford to buy for all of us grandchildren at Christmas; it was just too much to bite off all at once.  After all, there were twelve of us!  And with their own kids, there were another ten people that they needed to buy for as well; and so some years they simply had to dwindle down their shopping list a bit.  Oh we didn’t suffer though, Santa Claus was always more than generous.  In fact, most years, it went completely unnoticed that there were no gifts from Grandma because they were in Florida for the holidays (they rented a small cottage during the winter months); again, Social Security and a simple pension didn’t always afford them the pleasure of coming home for Christmas.  But about every other year, or so, they’d manage to come home for the holidays, and would even scrape a little extra money together to buy each of us something small, and give it to us on Christmas Eve.

It was either 1978 or 79'; the exact year really doesn’t matter for this particular story.  The only thing that matters is that we grandchildren were a bunch of All-American kids and it was Christmastime.  Grandma and Grandpa had managed to be home, whichever year it was, and we had all gathered at the farmhouse on Christmas Eve.  I can’t speak for all of my cousins, but I know that my brother and I, along with two of my other cousins, had seen the Star Wars movie a half dozen or more times by then, and we were completely enthralled with the story, the characters, the toys and nearly anything that had the words “STAR” and “WARS” on it!  In those days in particular, nearly every waking moment of our lives was spent talking about Star Wars, or pretending to be one of the many characters in the movie.  “The Force” was all the rage.

Now back in the day, nearly every child under the age of 12 still believed that Santa Claus visited their home on December 24th; at least from one degree to another they did.  Oh sure, eleven months out of the year, there was the occasional “Scott Farkuses” of the world that “claimed” there was no such thing as Santa; my cousin Beth being one of the worst.  But come December, just like there are no atheists in foxholes, there were no ten year old, non-believers in Santa on Christmas Eve.  And thus, while we loved our family, and loved the Christmas Eve celebration with them, we were counting the minutes before Mom & Dad would tell us to get our coats, because we needed to get home and prepare for St. Nick’s arrival.

Then again, no kid ever ignored packages underneath a Christmas tree either.  A dozen, or more, beautifully wrapped presents could hold a child’s orbit around the Christmas tree almost indefinitely.  Heck, I’d even check the packages under trees at the mall!  You just never knew if Santa might throw you an early bone once in awhile and leave a little surprise for you outside of Sears while Mom tortured you with one department store after the other!  But alas, it was always Tommy & Johnny, Sally or Sue that Santa left gifts for at the mall.  I don’t know what was so special about kids with those names, but they seemed to always be the names on “Mall packages”.  I came to really not like those kids; they always seemed to get all the good stuff and all of the surprises!

And so, as I mingled around the farmhouse on that Christmas Eve, I, along with my other cousins, would occasionally meander near the tree to see if we could catch a glimpse of what lied beneath it.  It soon became very obvious that Grandma had bought each of us grandsons the same exact thing.  “Oh no, the dreaded matching outfit present!”  Every boy alive, would rather chew glass than have to dress exactly like his brother.  And the only fate worse than that was dressing like your brother AND all of the other male offspring in the family!  And in a family as close knit as ours, we would most certainly have to wear those outfits out into public at some point in time.  Every box with a boy’s name on it was identical, although wrapped in different papers, and all of us with a ‘Y’ chromosome made the same exact assumption.  Encased within the thin paper packaging, of each identical box, was the same, identical shirt, or outfit, that every Grandma seems to buy every one of her grandson’s every... single... Christmas throughout the world. I mean seriously, did they have a special catalog for those horrible outfits or something?  And what was it with Grandmas always wanting to dress their grandchildren alike anyway?

As the minutes ticked away, and midnight came closer and closer; we would soon drive home and bed down for the night in preparation for Christmas morning.  Grandma and Grandpa, along with their partners in crime, soon began to make their way to the living room with their coffees and desserts; and yes, they were all culpable in the impending crime of matching shirts & pants, as Grandma had gotten our sizes from someone after all.

Grandmother announced it was time for everyone to get their gift, and matching outfit or not, none of us ever passed on the opportunity to tear open a package!  Besides, there was always the off-chance that there might be a Hot Wheels or Matchbox car packed inside with that horrible shirt we would most surely have to don one day.  It was even possible that we would have to suffer the humiliation that very night, as Grandma would most assuredly want a picture of all of us in our beautiful new Christmas sweaters.  Oh the indignity...

As each of her "little indians" circled around the base of the tree, and kneeled patiently, Grandma would pick up a package and  inspect it carefully to see whose name graced the Christmasy tag attached to the paper.  One by one, each of us received our identical package from our beloved grandmother and awaited permission to commence with the expected carnage.  Why were we getting so excited?  It was clothes after all!  Clothes none of us wanted or needed.  Perfectly good shirts and jeans lay balled up on the floor at the foot of my bed at home and I certainly didn’t need anymore.  So what if the pants were three inches too short, and the shirt that used to be white was now a rich cream color.

While Grandpa carried the larger packages to our parents, and we continued to await the order to dispense with the paper covering our gifts, each of us began to perform the “inspection” of our identical packages.  A little shake here, a little shake there, but nothing telling...  A slightly more convincing shake and soon it became obvious that something quite solid was moving around inside that box.  Great... it was probably a belt or something like that and the buckle was moving around, lulling us into a hopeless trap.  I had a perfectly good belt around my waist for crying out loud!  Defeated, I began to impatiently run my fingers over the surface of the package and began to notice a peculiar void that seemed to exist within the inner edges of the box’s boarder.  That’s curious, clothes aren’t packaged that way...  another shake.  Soon my little brother noticed what I was doing, and before you knew it all of us were investigating this rather curious new finding.  Maybe there was hope!  Maybe it wasn’t clothes.  But what could it be?!

It soon became obvious to all, that the “adults” in the room were deliberately delaying the progression of standard present opening procedure and before long each of us began to protest over the delay and urged Grandpa to veto this clear and obvious filibuster.  Grandpa’s trademark bellowing laugh filled the room and just as he was about to relent, Grandma rushed from the room to find her camera.  ANOTHER DELAY!  Flustered, our attention turned back to this suspicious package and I tried to think of every single box I had ever seen that had this crazy void at the top.  A great meeting of the minds took place and a joint session of the ‘Snoopers and Sneakers Congress’ could not solve the mystery.  It would seem there would be only one solution to this problem before us.

Grandma soon reentered the room, and with gleeful exuberance, announced to all that it was time to open our gifts.  Like rabid animals we tore into the paper, while others chose to patiently pull the tape away and casually unfold the well creased ends of their packages.  We Indians chose a more direct approach and plunged our fingers through the apparent void beneath the paper and pulled violently to the left or right.

A small thud was felt near my knees and I was completely focused on my gift; nobody else around me existed.  A twin pack of Eveready “C” sized batteries lay just before me, and the trademark logo of a black cat on a red background on top of chrome paper gleamed back at me for just a split second before I realized that my gift was not a piece of clothing.  I had zoned for a moment, and hadn’t picked up on the joy that surrounded me yet, and had further forgotten to even look at the gift that sat in my grubby little hands.  I refocused my attention on the identical box, with the void at the top and discovered the glorious, black plastic of my very own Han Solo Blaster!  It was a Christmas Miracle!!!  Grandma had suddenly risen to a level that we never thought possible and had attained, even if for a brief moment, the coveted status of “Favorite Grandma”.

Tugging and pulling ferociously at the boxes it soon became obvious that I would need Dad to free my Blaster from the box!  Running to him with effervescent joy, and a mangled and torn box, I nearly ran in place while he freed my treasure from the box.  And then it happened, the first blaster was loosed from it’s packaging and the first pulling of the trigger occurred.  The distinct blaster recoil was heard throughout the house, “WHOOCHOWWW”.  The eyes of us that had yet been able to pull the trigger of our very own blaster grew wide.  A second Christmas miracle had occurred!  For the official Han Solo Blaster also had it’s very own, battery operated, sounds and vibration!  Oh how our Mom’s were elated by the thought of getting to spend the next week, or more, listening to those wonderful new toys.

It was as if Santa had already come and gone, and we didn’t even realize that we needed to get to bed as we ran throughout the farm house blasting imaginary Storm Troopers that wonderful Christmas Eve.  It must have been so wonderful for Grandma and Grandpa to watch their grandchildren take such joy in a simple plastic toy that winter’s night!  Before long, we all made our way home, donned our PJs and fell fast asleep with Han Solo’s trusty blaster silently at our sides.  After all, you just never knew when an Imperial agent may sneak inside your room and attempt to overtake you!

For years, those toy blasters remained a part of our toy collection.  Pieces gradually got broken off, and the sound effects had long died with the batteries, but we played with those things all the year through for many years to come.

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Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 15, 2022 at 05:15 PM

Oh man. What an excellent recounting of a fun memory. I love these stories. Love the humorous way you tell it as well. Your fondness for the Han Solo Blaster reminds me of my relationship with my Shogun Godzilla. I still have that toy, and it's seen so much play through the years, I'm surprised it didn't crumble to pieces. I have photos of my opening it one special Christmas, though I can't remember the actual events. Many, many years later, I bought another one, complete in the box with instructions and everything. It's in FAR better condition than my original, but that broken down piece of plastic means a great deal more to me.

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