The first Christmas after moving into our current home (more than twelve years ago), we began consolidating our Star Trek and Star Wars Hallmark holiday ornaments together on one special countertop tree.
I had been collecting the figures since the first Star Trek Enterprise was released in 1991, before I even met my husband. Later, we acquired our first Star Wars Hallmark ornament, the Millennium Falcon, in 1996. The Falcon, incidentally, continues to get front-and-center position on the tree, no matter what.
We wanted to keep it exclusively filled with the ships and other vessels—no figures—but a few of those begin creeping onto the branches, along with other filler ornaments we picked up from different stores and as gifts.
We dubbed this little tree our “Peace on Earth—and Beyond” tree, as it lets the ships in the Final Frontier and a Galaxy Far, Far Away mingle together in sparkly peace and harmony.
Over time, the three-foot tree was becoming pretty crowded, but there always seemed to be room for “just one more” if a particularly cool ship was touted that year by the Hallmark folk. In addition, the base of the tree was building up its own little world of the more bulky ornaments and Christmas statues, from little Star Wars diorama sets to a Deep Space Nine complete with docking galaxy-class starships.
About five years ago, after finishing up the decorations for another year, we were admiring the little tree. By then it was looking like a lively meeting place for off-world travelers.
“You know what this tree needs,” I said to my husband.
“About another foot at the top, and fewer ornaments,” he replied.
“No! It needs Serenity!”
“From Firefly? Yeah, that’ll never happen.”
“I bet someone will think of it.”
They didn’t make one the next year. Nor did they the next.
We figured, as much as we enjoyed the show, Captain Mal, Wash and Zoe, River, Jayne, and crew were still hovering on the cult-following fringe. They weren’t yet household names on a large scale to warrant the Hallmark treatment.
However, since that first Enterprise, Hallmark has been more and more sneaking into the various pop culture fandoms from DC and Marvel to Walking Dead and Harry Potter. Eventually, we thought, one year they might discover Firefly.
This year, they did!
I was looking through their promotional Dream Book to see if they were planning on releasing a “Lando era” Falcon from Solo: A Star Wars Story (they did), and I found our Serenity!
It was exactly as it should be, just a simple light-up and lightweight ornament with no extra figures, sounds, or other special effects. It was just the ship, and those who love Firefly would recognize it immediately.
It was, like many of the Hallmark pop culture vessels, a little more expensive than I would like at $32.99, but that was what we expected. Our Solo Falcon cost the same, but it is much smaller than our original Falcon we picked up in the ’90s. Serenity was actually a better ornament and much more detailed for the same price. Still, it was cool to get them together.
One good change Hallmark has made over the years in some of their ornaments is switching from the dangly, cumbersome cords that plug into the tree lighting string to using replaceable batteries. This makes the ornaments lighter and more attractive. The downside is we have to keep pressing a little button if want to see the light up effect that lasts about a minute.
The biggest issue right now with the Hallmark Star Wars and Star Trek series, as well as their other pop culture and geeky series, is there are just way, waaay too many choices. I feel weird saying this because, in the days when we started collecting, more would have been great. Nowadays, as our family and responsibilities have grown and the space on our little tree has lessened, we have to budget our purchases more strategically.
It used to be just getting the “one ship” released from each of the franchises, and that was that. Now, there can be at least six or seven items each year from ornaments featuring characters and props to light up lightsaber battle tree skits, each more pricey than the next.
This year, there is a remote control operated Death Star tree topper for $99.99, with changing color, lights, and music. It is, admittedly, very impressive but out of our price range and too big for our tree. Our main “big” tree sports a traditional, less lethal star. There’s also a set of five “Storyteller” ornaments: a TIE Fighter, Vader’s TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Death Star, and Millennium Falcon. You can hook these up to a special power cord allowing them to interact with each other, resutling a familiar scene from the classic movies. I love this idea, but with each ornament priced $39.99, plus another ten bucks for the cord, that’s a $210-plus investment.
One of the simpler items I considered is their BB-8 Mystery Box ornament, which will include either a blue, red, or gold BB-8 figure. This is a little cheaper at $17.99, but since I already have a glass BB-8 I purchased elsewhere, I passed.
The only other ornament I might get later is the Star Trek: U.S.S. Discovery, a straightforward light-up ship based on their new series. Since I haven’t seen much of this series yet, I had to make a purchase choice between this and Serenity. Firefly won the battle.
While there may have been a time when I thought you could never have too much of a good thing, I now hope Hallmark dials back the offerings a bit next year. This makes the items a little more special and allows artists to concentrate on the quality of the item, rather than on how many different things they can market.
Even if we don’t purchase any additional ornaments this year, or even in the years to come, we finally got Serenity, and somehow, that gives us a sense of completion.
Our tree will continue to draw a bridge of unity between the Trekkie and fanboy worlds, no doubt. This year, no matter how crowded, we’re making room for the Browncoats, and the holiday season will be more cunning and shiny than ever.