The following is the letter I should have sent to Santa Claus when I was a young boy.
Dear Mr. Claus,
My name is Joseph Aaron Scrimshaw. The adults in my family call me Joey. I hate that. I tell them my name is Joseph. They laugh and call me cute. I tell them their reaction is condescending and pejorative. At this point, most adults leave the room.
But back to subject matter that is more germane to this missive. In regards to my Christmas present this year–it is my deepest desire to be the first child on my block to own a Death Star Space Station play set inspired by the major motion picture event, Star Wars.
Now, Santa, I realize you are probably not a fan of this recently released sci fi/fantasy epic since you are of the older generation and probably prefer more adult fare such as Annie Hall, ABBA:The Movie, or Exorcist II:The Heretic.
Suffice it to say, like yourself, Star Wars is rooted in ancient mythologies. Its timeless narrative allows young people to vicariously live a life of noble heroism through the main character, Luke Skywalker.
The film reminds us that we all have exciting destinies. As soon as a fascist regime brutally murders our parents or guardians, oh, the adventures we will have!
At the end of the film (after his second parental figure, Obi Wan Kenobi, has also been murdered) Luke Skywalker deals a terrible blow to the Galactic Empire by destroying the aforementioned space station, The Death Star.
The film’s phenomenal box office success has generated an unprecedented wave of merchandise. There are Star Wars glasses, posters, cereals, pillow cases, ornaments, etc. In Germany, you can even get Star Wars toilet paper.
Wiping your ass with an image of C-3PO seems like an odd way to express your interest in the film. But then, it’s Germany. I don’t need to tell Kris Kringle how weird the Germans can be.
(As a side note: I am so completely surrounded by the oeuvre of Star Wars, I often wonder if it will warp my mind and lead me to an adult life in which I obsessively quote the film and pretend any long cylindrical item I see is a lightsaber. So it goes.)
The most popular tie-in product is the Kenner toy company’s line of action figures. Action figures are like dolls that don’t threaten your masculinity. As much. The Death Star is a play set for these action figures. Sort of like Barbie’s Mansion, but evil.
And speaking of evil, I realize the irony of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ by receiving something called The Death Star. I could argue that there is a STAR connection to the story of Jesus’ birth, but I think we both know I would be equivocating.
I ask you to judge the Death Star not by the blatantly evil name (in fact, one wonders how the Empire got this name past the steering committee. Perhaps The Force was used?) or the rather inflated suggested retail price of $49.95, but rather judge it by the joy it would bring to me–young Joseph Aaron Scrimshaw. An intelligent, sensitive young man trapped in the barren wastes of the frozen tundra that is Northern Minnesota.
(Another side note: Northern Minnesota is much like the North Pole if most of the elves were alcoholics and Mrs. Claus had never heard of contraceptive devices. That is to say: it is lacking in magic.)
Rest assured, Santa, that I have exhausted every other possibility for acquiring the Death Star. I have asked my 26-year-old hippie parents to buy it for me. They answered a firm “no,” shaking their needlessly long hippie hair.
Even both of my Grandmothers put together to form a sort of financial Mecha-Grandmother could not afford the Death Star. I find this hard to believe as I have personally witnessed my maternal Grandmother smoke at least $60 worth of Virginia Slims cigarettes in one sitting.
And so, Santa, as holographic Princess Leia said to Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope. I risk no hyperbole when I say my entire world view for the rest of my life hangs in the balance.
I realize the Death Star is merely a collection of cheap plastic (and orange foam used to clumsily symbolize the garbage in the trash compactor), however, what magic has been fused into the plastic? Is it really an overly priced commercial tie-in? Or is it like a star itself? Both a muse to sentimental poets and a very real giver of light, warmth, and life?
If I receive the Death Star, I will be justified in my current belief that the world is a bright and happy place in which one can always make one’s dream a reality.
OR these fragile beliefs could be ruthlessly shattered by YOU. And I will be sentenced to a long and hollow life devoid of joy, compassion, and love. Suddenly, $49.95 doesn’t sound that expensive, does it?
Yours with much affection,
Joseph Aaron Scrimshaw
P.S. I must warn you in advance, I will not be able to leave out any cookies for you. As I mentioned earlier, my mother is a hippie, so I hope you will enjoy her seasonal collection of dried fruits and unsalted nuts.
Merry Christmas and May the Force Be with You.
A version of this story is also available in my book COMEDY OF DOOM.
Thanks for reading.