Christmas memories, part 2

Christmas morning, I gave my brother a pretty great gift that he wasn’t expecting at all. It wasn’t the mp3 player we bought him.

He had asked for a lot of different items to take with him to Iraq, and my family and I complied as much as possible. The Webmaster bought him a really nice pair of gloves, we also gave him the mp3 player, my parents gave him a military pack that he wanted from Ranger Joe’s, and just generally spoiled him rotten. Still, I had one of the best gifts for him – then my dad topped me.

Growing up, he got quite a lot of the original Star Wars action figures, circa 1977-1983. I had a few myself, three Princess Leias (“white” Leia from A New Hope, “Bespin” Leia from Empire, and “poncho” Endor camo Leia from Jedi) and my own Tauntaun – complete with slit in belly to put Luke in. My Leias are packed away somewhere, but my Tauntaun was most recently in the carnage of the second bedroom clean-up. He and I – being only 2 years apart in age and both dedicated Star Wars fans – played with them a lot.

However, he never owned a “white” Luke – the Luke Skywalker figure from A New Hope with the white Tatooine top and lightsaber. My parents tried in vain to find one for years, but they were always sold out. We generally didn’t worry about it as kids, though we thought it would be cool for him to finally get one. But eventually, we all grew up, the action figures are in storage, and time marches on.

I don’t know exactly where the idea came from, but I think it just had to do with the fact that you can get almost anything on eBay. I decided that I would buy him a “white” Luke. And that market on eBay was very promising. I finally won a bid on one in used, but good condition in November, and told my parents in much glee what I had done. My mother thought it was hilarious, but my dad was more on the “why does he need that?” end of things. But I knew that it would be a hit.

I labeled the package to him from me (and only me), and when it was handed to him on Christmas Day, the video camera was rolling. He opened it up and was completely stunned, and then so pleased that I had even thought of it. Then my dad pulled the biggest laugh that we have had in years. He said, “Here, this is for you, so you can play with him,” and handed him a toothpick, colored blue with a marker except for a centimeter on the end of it. My brother and I were rolling around laughing, my dad had a grin a mile wide, my mother was in stitches, my sister sort of got it, and my youngest sister, the Webmaster, my sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, and all the little ones stared at us as if we’d lost it.

My brother then explained the joke to his wife and the others among us who didn’t understand. When we were growing up, we were not allowed to play with the little guns and lightsabers that came with the action figures. My dad kept them all in a lunchbox, and handed them out to us in limited quantities when we wanted to play. It was for a couple of reasons – he didn’t want them to get lost or broken, and my middle sister was a baby at the time and these were easy choking hazards. When we were done playing, we had to give them back to my dad. To my knowledge, we never lost any of them. But the lightsabers were such flimsy pieces of plastic that we really never used them. Instead, my dad – you guessed it – colored toothpicks with markers in the correct colors, and we used them for lightsabers.

I had no idea that my dad was going to do that, so I got the surprise of that part of it. Even though this Luke (and many other figures) had lightsabers built directly into their arms, we pretty much always used the toothpicks.

It was the biggest laugh of Christmas morning, and I had a part in it. My dad gets special credit for two other gifts, though – he built a doll cradle for the Munchkin, and my mother made a little pillow and mattress and patchwork quilt for it, and it has been a HUGE hit with the Munchkin, and he built a humidor for my brother. He had me buy Spanish cedar for it off eBay (I didn’t know that you could buy wood on eBay!), and my mother and I ordered the correct gages and dials from Amazon. My brother says that this will be his “show” humidor and only his special cigars will go in there. Yes, he has become a cigar aficionado – he started smoking them in Iraq. No, my mother and his wife are not thrilled. He has to go outside to smoke them. But he does it more for fun than anything else.

He gave the Webmaster a cigar, though – an official Operation Iraqi Freedom one in a glass tube. “We’re going to smoke it when I get back,” he told the Webmaster.

I think that when that time comes, my mom won’t care that they’re smoking. They’ll still have to go outside, though.

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