My father and I have a tradition, one that we've been doing together for years. He's been doing it since 1993, and I've been doing it since about 1996, around the time I got into Star Trek. Every year, my father buys a Hallmark Star Trek ornament and puts it on the Christmas Tree. I remember the first one he got, the Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament; a boxy little ship with lights and a little button underneath, that when pressed, chirps out a tin voice saying:
"Shuttlecraft to Enterprise, Shuttlecraft to Enterprise. Spock here. Happy Holidays. Live long, and prosper."
This was my first time being exposed to Spock, or Star Trek, and space. For many reasons, it holds a very special place in my memories. I was intrigued, and thought it was mysterious, but thought no more of it. Next year, a new ornament showed up on the tree from "Star Trek." It also lit up, and it also spoke. By this point in my life, I was getting into trouble by opening up Speak and Spells, making them curse, and finding out just how much of a geekling protegé I was, so naturally having a second Star Trek ornament in the house perplexed me. I begged my parents to let me see the show, let me find out more of this universe. Luckily for me, Star Trek: Generations had just come out in theaters.
What a movie to introduce me to the series! It had action, romance, adventure, time travel, Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard on one screen! I was hooked. Next year, Christmas came around, and there was no ornament on the tree. Hallmark had sold out.
The following year, my father took me to work with him, at the time in the World Trade Center. We were to pick up the ornament this time for sure, right after work. Nobody was going to buy it before we were! Funny thing about the World Trade Center: you're so high up, you can see everything going on in the city below. Including the line forming at Hallmark.
So, Dad and I raced to get downstairs. We treated the elevators like our own spaceshift lifts. They went fast enough to, and my father wanted me to get excited. So, as we descended dozens of floors every few seconds, he would nudge me and go,
"Engineering Deck, Holo Deck, Battle Deck, General Quarters, Bridge. We're here, Captain."
It's funny the things you remember as a child. Here I am terrified of the massive elevators in this tower that whisk you up and down in a matter of seconds, and instead of remembering that terror, I remember my father holding my hand, nudging me, and in front of 5 other strangers, made Star Trek references to make me giggle. It worked.
We got to the store, waited on line for nearly his entire break, and managed to get our hands on the U.S.S. Voyager. Racing back to his office, we kept turning it over in our hands, wondering what would light up, what it would say. I was so excited that I didn't even care about the elevators this time around, and Dad didn't have to pretend to be a spaceship lift again. When we got to the office, we wanted to open it up immediately... so we did. Back in those days, the ornaments were not battery powered, they clipped into Christmas lights to turn on. Looking around, the only thing that had lights already turned on was a small little plastic tree in the corner of his row that had seemingly been forgotten. We asked around, and were able to procure it for his cubicle.
We clipped the Voyager in, and excitedly pressed the tiny little button under the ship. It lit up, and did nothing else.
We were disappointed. What happened to the lights and sounds? It was actually difficult to tell who was more upset over it, but it was me who asked my father if he could put the other ones on the tree. He happened to have the other ornaments in his office already, since he liked to show them off. We snapped the Shuttlecraft in, and the next year's Enterprise. Suddenly, our little dingy plastic tree seemed to have a fresh new life of its own. Our Star Trek Christmas Tree was born.
Every year since then, we've put the ornaments not on our family tree, where they'd be hidden amongst garland and massive orbs, but on the same plastic tree that was in my father's office in the World Trade Center. They shine on their own, as they should, and every year we trim it together. Nobody else in my family gets it, nobody else in my family really appreciates it quite the same, and that's alright. This is what I treasure every year, amongst so many other gifts my father has given me-- this is my favorite. Thanks, Dad.