This is the time of year for gathering those we love close and sharing not just gifts, but good food, good drink, and laughter. It gives me such hope to see people turning away from gift giving these days to, instead, share quality time together. Many of my friends and I are giving "gifts of experience" instead of actual things. These gifts of experience may include a card with an invitation to dinner, either home cooked or at a favorite restaurant. Or a bottle of wine with a note attached that it's not to be opened without the gift giver in attendance. Or even gift cards to a favorite restaurant and movie theater, with an invitation to a night out in the near future. More extravagant gifts might include tickets to a concert by a favorite artist, or tickets to a play both of us love or have been eager to see. It takes some of the pressure out of rushing around looking for just the right gift, and can help strengthen a friendship with a shared experience.
I turned 50 this year, and so I've been on the receiving end of many Christmas gifts. One of my all time favorite gifts, however, was when I probably 14. I am and always have been a huge movie fan. I love going to the movies or watching them in the comfort of my own pajama pants and sofa. I was 12 when the original "Star Wars" was released, long since retitled to "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." Seeing that movie in 70mm Dolby Sound on a massive movie screen in an theater filled with hundreds of people was life changing. It lit a spark of creativity that has fueled my story telling to this day. That first shot of the small rebel blockade runner ship flying overhead followed by the seemingly endless Star Destroyer left me awestruck.
Flash forward two years. I was in full on Star Wars obsession mode. I had action figures and drew comic strips with Star Wars characters. I collected the trading cards with that hard slab of gum inside and built models of starships and hung them from fishing line in my bedroom. I read the book and knew the names of all the secondary characters. I had become one with the Force.
That Christmas I found a huge box waiting for me under the tree. It was the size of a box filled with reams of paper and had been wrapped in Sunday comics with a big red bow on top. I was curious and excited as I tore the paper off. What could this be?
Inside the box was a Super 8 home movie set. It contained a camera, a camera case, a projector, and a pull up movie screen. I was giddy with excitement. I could make my own movies! The camera ran on batteries and took Super 8 cartridges that had enough film for about 10 minutes of footage. There was no sound, but with the visuals spinning in my head, I didn't need sound.
I made a lot of movies with that camera. I enlisted my family and friends, plus the kids I was babysitting for. I made horror movies and silly movies and mock commercials and, of course, my own version of "Star Wars." It was an epic saga that required four or five cartridges. I built an R2-D2 out of a garbage can and a wash tub. I played Darth Vader with a mask and a black hoodie. Lightsabers were built out of wood dowels. For laser blasts I spent hours squinting at the tiny frames of film and using a pin to scratch away the emulsion, then dabbed colored markers along the lines.
I was telling stories in images, and having that camera set helped me become a writer. I learned how to put down in words the images that swirl around in my head. I have my parents to thank for seeing what I loved and giving me a gift that not only encouraged it, but helped to shape the man I am today.
As a holiday treat, I'd like to giveaway free copies of my holiday Story Orgy singles: "Mistletoe at Midnight," and "A Gift for Greg." Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.
I like to thank K-lee Klein for inviting me to share my Gratitude and Giving memories today, and here's wishing all of you a season of joy and peace, no matter how you celebrate, be it Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanza, a combination of them, or nothing at all. Be good to one another, and be good to yourself, too.
Mistletoe at Midnight Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mistletoe-Midnight-Story-Orgy-Single-ebook/dp/B00FP6N6FA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
A Gift for Greg Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Greg-Story-Orgy-Single-ebook/dp/B00H5VZ1XI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Hank’s website: www.hankedwardsbooks.com
Hank’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks
Hank’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/hanksbooks
Hank’s Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/author/hankedwards