Bringing Families Together With Star Wars

Bringing Families Together With Star Wars

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The holiday season is best spent with family and friends and nothing brings people together like Star Wars. Well, Star Wars and Coffee With Kenobi. I’ve been saying this for years and it was evident in the past week with my family. When I told my wife that thirty theaters around the country would be showing The Force Awakens trailer the day after Thanksgiving and one of the theaters was about 45 minutes from our house, she said I had to go. So I immediately bought tickets to The Force Awakens trailer. I mean, I immediately bought tickets to The Penguins of Madagascar for me and my two oldest sons.

When we woke up on Friday morning, my sons and I were excited to see The Penguins, but they said they were the most excited to see the Star Wars trailer. Clearly, I’ve been raising them well. Before the movie, we resisted the Dark Side temptation to watch the trailer online, even though it was easier, quicker, more seductive. My sons had never seen any Star Wars trailer on a movie screen and I knew this would be a once in a lifetime experience for them and me. All of my kids were born after Revenge of the Sith so I never thought I would get to do this with them. It was kind of an emotional experience. Most people laugh at me when I tell them this, but Star Wars fans understand.

We got into the theater about a half hour before our movie was supposed to start so I had the ingenious idea that we were going to parlay this one movie into two viewings of the trailer. So we went into one of the theaters showing Mockingjay because the previews were just starting. For some reason I thought the Star Wars trailer would be the first one shown (it was the most important one after all) so we would be in and out, and after seeing a couple of previews that gave my sons nightmares, we finally got to see what we’d come for. The best was saved for last! All three of us were on the edge of our seats. And from the moment we heard that chilling voice our minds were blown! Yes, we felt the awakening!


As we left the first viewing my kids couldn’t wait to begin speculating about all that they had seen. I quickly explained that speculating is frowned upon on CWK. But they were thrilled and so was I. I’m not sure they knew what to expect from the trailer, but it clearly exceeded their expectations. So when we went into our movie to see the trailer for the second time in about 40 minutes we knew what to expect. Well, my sons knew what to expect. I did not. I had no idea that when I saw the Millennium Falcon blast onto the screen again that my eyes would start welling up. I had just realized that this was the only time I would get to take my sons to their first Star Wars trailer. And it was the Falcon! What an awesome day! It will be a day long remembered.


When we got home my kids couldn’t wait to show the trailer to my wife and their little brother. They both really liked it too, and then something amazing happened: my wife said she wanted to watch a Star Wars movie as a family that night and have a Star Wars marathon soon. My wife and I usually don’t get each other Christmas presents, but this seemed like an early present from her to me. We decided to watch Return of the Jedi, because my wife recently decided she loves Emperor Palpatine (she even calls him Paps) and ROTJ has my favorite scenes of his. I knew my wife liked men a couple of years older than her (like me!), but I had no idea that she liked them with Force lightning also.


My wife had seen ROTJ before, but she couldn’t remember it very well so for my sons and me it was like watching with someone who hadn’t see it at all. We wanted to prove to her that Star Wars is not a mindless sci-fi series. It is a saga with depth, metaphors, and it teaches life lessons. I was feeling some pressure to point out all of the symbolism and teachings. My wife didn’t remember that Vader’s mask came off at the end and she seemed almost nervous to see what was underneath. I tried to explain the symbolism of masks in storytelling, but I’m not sure she heard me or cared. If I’d had more time I would have wanted to prepare a Craig Dickinson-like lesson plan. Maybe I can when we watch next time.


Each week, we have been watching Star Wars: Rebels as a family and we look forward to it. We have loved getting to know the new characters and watching each week seems to have made us closer as a family. We can’t wait to watch all six films again together, and we’re already planning when we are going to see The Force Awakens next year. Midnight on opening night and once or twice the next day? Hopefully. What better way to spend time as a family, especially at Christmastime?

I’ve met so many people and had so many great experiences throughout my life because of Star Wars. It offers something to people of all ages, races, genders, and occupations. Just about everyone is able to relate in some way to some character or situation. There just aren’t very many things that can bring people together like Star Wars. And if it brought the Skywalkers together, it can bring any family together.


Do you have a story about how Star Wars brought you together with your family, friends, or anyone else? I’d love to hear it. Please send your story to me at, @ryderwaldrondds on Twitter, or on my Facebook page. Thank you for reading my blog and please read the other amazing bloggers on CWK. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! This is the podcast you’re looking for!

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  1. Dan Z & Cory Clubb
    December 11, 2014 at 13:38 Reply

    This was full of wonderful reflections, and I loved all of your nods. Really awesome!

    -Dan Z

    1. Ryder
      December 12, 2014 at 14:27 Reply

      Thanks, Dan. I appreciate you saying that.

  2. Dennis Keithly (@DJKver2)
    December 11, 2014 at 15:29 Reply

    I love hearing about everyone’s experience watching the trailer. This sounds like it was a great experience, Ryder.

    There was a nearby theater that I could have gone to see the trailer, but prior to the announcement of where it would be screening, we had purchased tickets for The Penguins of Madagascar elsewhere. If we had been aware of the trailer’s release further in advance, we probably would have changed our plans.

    That said, I was up early with both of my boys that Friday morning. When I saw enough comments about the expected release time, I decided to put The Empire Strikes Back on the Blu Ray player to pass the time. Both my boys have seen Empire before, but they are bigger fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. Still, we had a lot of fun talking about the movie. The AT-ATs and the Millenium Falcon are huge hits with the kids.

    Finally, it was time for the trailer. I was excited the moment Boyega, or I guess we can call him Finn now, showed up on screen. I wish I had recorded the reaction of my boys when the villain ignited his saber, the X-Wings soared across the lake, and the Millenium Falcon soared through the desert sky. Absolutely priceless.

    I took my boys to see The Phantom Menace in 3D a couple of years ago. They were a little too young at the time to enjoy the experience. I’m eager to take them to the theaters to see this on December 18, 2015. I remember my parents taking me to see Star Wars when it first debuted in theaters multiple times when I was a very young kids. I want that experience with my boys.

    1. Ryder
      December 12, 2014 at 14:29 Reply

      Wow! Thanks, Dennis! It’s so cool to hear about everyone’s experiences. Thanks for reading and commenting! It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan.

  3. Melinda
    December 15, 2014 at 07:56 Reply

    What a great story, Ryder!!! 🙂 I loved it!

    Although our 2 girls had seen the OT a number of times on video as they grew up, when the Special Edition was released in theaters, my husband and I couldn’t wait to have the girls see Star Wars ON THE BIG SCREEN for the first time! 🙂 Many thought we were just plain odd. “They know the story. Why go see it again? And pay for it?” Why indeed! They both were under 10 years old — and they were blown away!!! 😀

    Star Wars is one of those great stories that one’s family can enjoy together — at all stages of life. About how many things can one say that? 😉

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

    1. Melinda
      December 15, 2014 at 07:59 Reply

      By the way — the midnight showing of TFA, followed by a couple of viewings later in the day (once you’ve gotten some shuteye) is the bare minimum. 😉 I do no less, too. 😉

      1. Ryder
        December 15, 2014 at 16:32 Reply

        Thanks so much, Melinda. Star Wars has many meanings to many people, and it’s so great. And i think you’re right about the bare minimum of viewings. I don’t want to be a slacker haha

  4. Craig Dickinson
    December 18, 2014 at 13:44 Reply

    Great post, Ryder! I love hearing stories like that (and the shout-out was too kind). My kids are a little younger than yours, but I also can’t wait to take them to new STAR WARS movies.

    1. Ryder
      December 18, 2014 at 21:11 Reply

      Thanks, Craig! It’s a real honor that you read it.

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