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Family Traditions

2012/01/20

Tonight was very bittersweet for me, because a more than 30 year tradition was upheld, but it’s sad due to the fact that it may be the last time. Tonight I went to see the incredible and inspiring Red Tails with my father (and my baby brother tagged along). Me and my Dad have gone to see every George Lucas movie in the theatres since 1977, when he took me to my very first “indoor movie” to see Star Wars. But that tradition appears to be ending tonight, with the news that George Lucas is retiring from the blockbuster business.

Movies and history have always been the touchstones for me and my Dad. Whether it’s a total cheese-fest, a sweeping war epic, or the classic space opera, Dad and I could always find common ground with the popcorn at the ready as the lights dimmed in the movie house. We’ve obviously seen more than just George Lucas films, but that was the genesis of our movie nights. Some of my fondest memories with Dad revolve around movies. Seeing Silence of the Lambs at the old Cooper/Cameo, or Gettysburg at the Century 21, before they were closed. Or the night my folks took us to see Darby O’Gill and the Little People at the Central Drive-In, so they could see Death Wish on the other side of the double feature, thinking we’d be fast asleep before it started. Unfortunately, that was the night the projectionist switched the reels, and while my little brother was asleep, my father tells how I kept asking him to change the channel, before Mom convinced him it was time to leave. And I remember how we all held our breaths after the fire at the Continental, hoping that the print of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi would be unharmed for our second viewing (and many subsequent viewings later).

While I understand the reasoning behind Mr. Lucas’ retirement, it still leaves a little sadness in my heart. 35 years of movie memories and my special father/daughter tradition has come to an end. But, just like my father, I’ve used my love of movies to connect with another generation. Next month, Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace is being released in 3D, and I have some nieces and a nephew who’ve never seen Star Wars on the big screen. I think it’s time to start my own tradition.

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