May the Fourth

It was a busy day. Our oldest son was at his first non-family-member sleep-over last night as a friend from school was doing a birthday celebration. We picked him up this morning. Apparently 2am was the going bed time. I expected he would have been the one who bowed out early. He's done it before at family gatherings--when he's tired enough he'll tell me he needs to go to bed. We'll see what manner of grouchiness tomorrow brings if he doesn't sleep in long enough.

After his brother and I picked him up, we headed to a local comic book shop. Today was the coinciding of two of our favorite non-religious holidays: Free Comic Book Day and Star Wars Day (dubbed so by fans years ago because it's May the 4th--as in May the Fourth be with you. Yes, nerds enjoy a good pun). So we stopped in and got a few of the free comics they offered. Unfortunately, they didn't have the free Pippi Longstocking comic that my wife desired, so we were going to have to try another comic book store. Much to our chagrin, of course.

I'm not naive enough to think all comics are good. Decades ago there was a fairly successful movement to censor comics and make sure they were all moral and such. They're not all, of course. There's plenty of violence and immorality and women who are drawn way out of proportion. But there's a lot of good stories and fun to be had. Good to triumph over evil, superpowers to be bestowed upon weaklings, and puns to be said.

But before we got to the next store, we had a stop at Home Depot for their kids' workshop. Today's project: a herb planter. Which wasn't a big project. One screw for attaching two pieces of wood. It ended up being more of a painting project. Which was fine. They boys enjoyed it thoroughly.

Then, onto the second place for comics. Which they had a few books that the first store didn't have. But still no Pippi Longstocking. So our quest continued. For my wife, of course. (It didn't hurt that the boys remembered that the third store we were aware of had a Captain America cake last year.)

The third store finally had the Pippi book (though I thought they were out of it at first, because the comic was turned over--often there are two comics put together for the free books and the flipside was what was facing up).

We were all tired by that point, so we headed home. The boys did some reading while I did laundry, cleaned bathrooms, and worked on the pizza dough for supper.

So we had to finish off the evening by celebrating Star Wars Day. The boys picked out Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (after I steered them away from Episode I). Besides being a fun movie to watch, the original Star Wars movies offer a lot. I won't try and make biblical parallels, but there is, of course, the story of forgiveness and redemption as Luke tries to turn his father, the evil Darth Vader, back to the good side. He knows there's good in him yet. And he is right. Even after his father has sliced off his hand, killed his mentor, tortured his friends, and had a hand in the massacre of his foster parents, Luke doesn't give up on old Anakin Skywalker.

And Luke himself is a story of growing from a whiny farm boy who would rather go with his friends to Tosche Station than do his job, to a whiny Jedi-in-training for whom everything is impossible, to finally a Jedi knight who is showing signs of maturity and wisdom. Not to mention that a back-world farm boy can save the galaxy for a seemingly undefeatable evil.

And of course we learn that we are the ones in control of our destiny. Not our parents--even if they happen to be the Dark Lord of the Sith who force-chokes everyone who disagrees with him. Not even the force ghosts of our mentors who try to get us on the right path. We always have the power to make our own choices, no matter what forces are working for or against us.

There's a lot more that could be unpacked, but needless to say, we enjoyed watching the movie together. And of course there are plenty of free comic books to read (especially after visiting three stores) at bedtime. So May the Fourth be with you. (To which I always want to reply, in good liturgical fashion, "And also with you.")

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