My family – along with what seemed like a billion other people – saw "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" during its opening weekend. We bought tickets in early November, and I was psyched.
Recently, my Facebook friends may think I am a super-fan with all my "Force Awakens"-related posts, but the truth is, I fell asleep during "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace," and I haven't even seen "Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones" or "Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith."
"Star Wars," to me, was more pop-culture references (think Rachel in the gold bikini a la "Friends") than movies that shaped who I am. The originals – episodes IV, V and VI – make me wax nostalgic for my youthful days, but they aren’t movies I watch on a regular basis.
But then something happened. My husband introduced our 4-year-old to "Star Wars," and her excitement stimulated my interest.
Her list to Santa contained a single item – a Kylo Ren lightsaber – and she knows the names of all the characters – old and new. Completed with the buns (a wig), she dressed as Princess Leia for Halloween. She wakes up in the morning humming the "Imperial March."
It’s similar to the "Frozen" mania that inundated our home for the last two years, but this is a little different. "Star Wars" is something that is everywhere – from car commercials to toothbrushes to Kraft Mac & Cheese. I wanted to fight it, but the Force was too strong with this one.
It wasn’t just the movie. It was seeing my daughter make connections about characters, developing her vocabulary (hello, Millennium Falcon). It was watching her bond with her father over movies that he loved when he was her age and a little older. It was realizing her 16-year-old brother, my stepson who lives out of state, had never seen the original trilogy. Inspired by his sister’s fanaticism and family’s coaxing, he watched them this past month and will soon see the newest installment. It is anticipating the conversations she will want to have with her brother this summer about her favorite movie. (Sorry, boy.)
Then again, maybe Star Wars will be another "Finding Nemo" or "Frozen" for her; a passing craze with remnants of wall decals and toys left behind in the toy box. Or maybe, just maybe, she is forming memories that will last a lifetime; maybe she’ll take her kids to see Episode XIV in 30-some years.
Jen Schneider is a middle school teacher and mom to two children.