In which I spent the entire 1980s convinced the Star Wars Holiday Special never existed.

A lifetime ago, I sat down to watch the first and, it turned out, only broadcast of the Star Wars Holiday Special. I was four years old.

Here’s where it gets a little weird.

These days, every Star Wars fan knows about the special. Most have seen it. It’s the most infamous franchise offshoot around, known not only for its badness, but for how much George Lucas has tried to disown it.

In the internet age, it’s difficult to disown anything. But in the 70s and 80s? Things can disappear into fuzzy memory. Fast.

As the years went on, my fuzzy memory of a TV show about a Wookie planet remained, but I couldn’t find anything to verify it. It never popped up anywhere. Nobody talked about it. Did I really watch something with Chewbacca’s family? If so, why don’t any of my fan guides mention it? Why could I so easily find proof of everything, no matter how lame (even that Christmas album!), but not this?

Was it all a dream?

By the time I reached adulthood, I was convinced I was the victim of a false memory. Long before Reddit wondered about Shazaam and Wikipedia explained how it had been “Berenstain” all along, there was me, with a mental picture of Kashyyyk I knew to be a fraud.

And then the bootlegs arrived.

I don’t know when outlaw VHS dubs of the Holiday Special first hit the convention circuit, but I became aware of them in the mid-90s. It was a bit of a shock. Wait… I muttered in my head. That damn thing was real?!

At long last, fellow Gen-Xers were talking about it, laughing about it, validating its existence. Where had that chatter been all my life? Didn’t they know what I had been through?

I finally got to see it a couple years later. (On a crummy fourth-generation VHS copy, natch.) The show itself was as bizarre as I remembered, but the experience for me was even more insane. Here I was on a friend’s couch, watching something I spent years telling myself wasn’t real.

I still haven’t quite gotten over it.

Happy Life Day, everyone.


copyright 2016 David Cornelius all rights reserved

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