One of the questions Tricia asked the panelists during the From A Certain Point of View panel was what we most enjoyed about Star Wars. Before Celebration Anaheim, I had a fairly stock answer: the movies, of course, especially IV, V, VI; some of the EU novels, especially Timothy Zahn’s; playing SW:TOR; and the interesting people I’ve met. What I realized at the convention was that really, truly, what I love most about Star Wars are the other fans.
I met quite a few interesting people at Celebration Anaheim, and in this series of posts I would like to share their stories with you.
I count myself as lucky in a number of ways – I have good friends that I share passionate interests with, and I get to work with passionate colleagues. But to be able share a love of Star Wars with work friends? That’s blessed. This is why I’m particularly excited to share Kati and Ray Lai’s experience of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim.
I’ve known Kati and Ray Lai for over ten years now. Back then, Ray and I shared an office. I had a Yoda who sat on my desk, next to a pothos plant. When you pressed his hand he would predict the future like a Magic 8 Ball, though his favorite thing to say was “Mmm, the future, always in motion.” When I changed jobs, I entrusted Yoda to Ray. As these work things go, I returned to a version of my old job about three years ago – now Kati and I share an office.
Our jobs have overlapped and our kids have grown up together. I have seen our love of Star Wars grow and evolve as well. Ray has a huge poster of Carbonite Han on a wall in their den, as well as a life-size Darth Vader. Our kids have played various Star Wars characters for Halloween. As Kati and I talked about our upcoming trip to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, Kati mentioned making costumes for the kids. Then she announced the whole family decided to get in on it.
Ten years ago, I would have never imagined myself being a senior staff writer on a Star Wars blog, nor would I have imagined Kati and Ray as cosplayers. My old Yoda doll was certainly right: the future, it is always in motion.
- Was this your first Celebration?
- What did you enjoy the most at Celebration? The least?
It was a great family experience. We met friends there with young children also.
We loved seeing all of the awesome costumes, and the boys loved watching and helping out with the droid races.
Our least favorite was the long lines and waits for all of the panels. But at least we spent the time in line with fans! The kids used the time to have weapon fights.
- How did you get into Star Wars?
Growing up, I had many uncles who were Star Wars fans. So of course I watched all of the Star Wars movies. There would often be one of the movies playing during a family get-together. I was always struck by how Leia could be a princess, yet be such a powerful woman. All of the boys listened to what she said. And yet she always had a polished feminine appearance.
When I met my husband Ray, who was a huge Star Wars fan, I watched all of the movies again! It was a requirement, especially with the excitement of an episode I, II, and III after many, many years has lapsed between the release of IV, V, and VI. Ray would tell me how Star Wars evoked so many great childhood memories. We went to the premiers of Episode I, II, and III, even waiting outside the historic Coronet Theater in San Francisco for the release of Episode I.
Now that we have children, our boys love Star Wars and know that dad is a huge Star Wars fan. We love participating in the Jedi Academy at Disneyland and Disney World. Ray gets just as excited as the boys – getting to live the experience through their eyes. I love how we have so much fun as a family participating!
- You ended up having really amazing costumes at Celebration, many of which you made yourself. Did you ever see yourself as a cosplayer?
I never saw myself as a cosplayer. It all started with trying to get costumes for the kids. Our boys already had Jedi robes and loved participating and watching the Jedi Academy at Disneyland. Once we decided on a costume for our little girl, it just made sense that we should all participate in cosplay as a family!
We didn’t expect that so many other fans would be so appreciative of our cosplay efforts! It really solidified the feeling that all of our efforts were worth it.
It was also nice to see my sons being so proud to show off their sister in her costume.
- What does it mean to you to be a Star Wars fan?
It is a way that we can relate as a family, in having a common interest. It is also an underlying belief that good will always prevail over evil.
My 6 year old son wanted a Star Wars birthday party last year, but requested that only the evil characters be on the cake! He said, because they were “cool looking.” So I suppose we can say that we’ve learned, even evil characters can be cool looking!
- What does it mean to your family to have this love for Star Wars? Do you see your daughter loving Star Wars as much as your sons?
Absolutely! She already has lightsaber battles with them! I hope that Star Wars will continue the tradition of having strong female characters. I hope that my daughter will always be able to see that she can have a hand in shaping her own destiny, just as the female role models in Star Wars do.
- Will we see you at another Celebration?
Of course! We had so much fun at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. We have such great memories of our time spent as a family during Celebration.
Linda has been a Star Wars fan from the time she saw Episode IV in the theatre with her parents and insisted on being Han Solo while playing with the neighborhood kids. She’s now a fangirl who splits her time learning to twirl a bo staff like Ray Park, jumping horses, writing fanfic she dreams up on her commute to work, and spending time with her husband and their own feisty Padawan version of Ahsoka. She can be reached at Linda.HansenRaj@gmail.com and on Twitter.
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