Star Wars is a VERY big deal in my house. My husband grew up as a huge fan, and has definitely shared the love with our kids. Truth be told, I didn’t even see the movies until I started dating him in college. I wasn’t sure I’d like them – I’d always been a Star Trek fan. I was surprised, but it’s hard not to fall in love (even a little bit) with something that your partner is so passionate about.
In 2012, the Star Wars Celebration was held in Orlando. This is the OFFICIAL Star Wars convention held all over the world – Germany, California, England. It’s a big freaking deal. We went on my birthday. Our boys were 4 and 7. We had a great time. This was my kids’ first experience with cosplay (the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game). They were fascinated with it. My seven-year-old even got picked out of the crowd to do Jedi training on stage and fight Darth Vader. My four-year-old cried the entire time because he didn’t get picked. Little did he know in 2017 he’d have his chance.
Fast forward to 2017. We now have three kids and decided to take all of them to the Star Wars Celebration, once again being held in Orlando. We bought tickets for the third day of the four-day-long convention. After seeing reports of mile-long lines to get in and hearing horror stories from friends of four-hour waits to get through security, I have to admit, I was a little hesitant. OK – a lot hesitant. But there was no chance we were skipping it so we went, and I hoped that the force would be with us.
By the third day, our friends at the Orange County Convention Center had their act together. We arrived and easily entered the Star Wars Celebration convention as the doors opened at 10 a.m. We bounced around from photo op to photo op. We played in the Lego area for a long time. We made our way over to the stage where the Star Wars Celebration live stream was being filmed. Thousands of people were in the crowd cheering and trying to get on the big screen as the camera panned the audience. My daughter, perched on her Dad’s shoulders saw herself on the screen and got incredibly excited. She started bouncing up and down, hilariously beating her poor Dad’s head in the process. It made for a very amusing few seconds.
We continued to walk around, marveling at costumes and checking out the artwork. Then we saw it – the stage where 20 lucky kids would be chosen to become Jedis and fight Darth Vader himself. I turned to my son Aaron, who had been left out of the fun five years ago.
“Do you want to try again? Will you be devastated if you aren’t selected?” I asked.
“I’ll try, but this time I’ll just assume I’m not going to get picked,” he answered, with maturity that surprised me.
We waited by the stage. A few minutes later, the exact same actor who had trained my other young Padawan appeared. I wondered if the universe was trying to tell us something. The actor started to point to children in the audience. After about ¾ of the spots had been filled, he turned towards my son Aaron. I said a silent “PLEASE CHOOSE HIM” in my head. The actor pointed and declared, “You in the gray shirt, make your way to the stage.” Aaron moved faster than I’ve ever seen him move in his life. And just like that, he had the chance to train with a lightsaber, and donning a Jedi robe he bravely fought Darth Vader. He beamed from the stage. He’ll never forget it, and neither will I.
Then my three-year-old declared it was her turn.
It looks like we will be back again in 2019. Can we really get lucky three times in a row? If I’ve learned anything from Star Wars, it’s that you never know how strong the force can be when you really need it.
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