Noblesse Oblige: Princess Leia's Gift Bags
by Csillag and Diana

As a young girl, Princess Leia's caretakers made sure she understood that all beings are the same, even if they were considered lesser by others. And so she was obliged to remember all those who served her. Initially, Leia's aunts expected her to remember not only her companion Winter, but those who had direct contact with her. To their surprise, she made plans to give a gift to every servant in the palace, from the game keepers, to the laundresses, to the cooks and drivers. She also got the names of the young boys and girls who delivered things to the palace.

She submitted her budget to her father, Bail Organa, who was impressed with the long list of recipients. "The cost is relatively low per person, Leia," he said, "are you sure you can give so many gifts on such a budget?"

"Yes, Father," Leia was acting very grown-up, "you'd always liked the gifts I made for you myself. With your permission, I'd like to have Winter help me make gifts for everyone."

"That will take a lot of time, Leia."

The girl smiled, and Bail Organa admired how very much like her birth mother Leia looked, complete with dimples. "It'll be an assembly line, Father. Everyone will get the same thing, more or less. Those whom I know more personally with get a few extra things, but for the most part, the gifts will contain things like jams and candy in a nice bag. Homemade but things people will like or be able to use. Will that be okay?"

Senator Organa was impressed with his adopted daughter's determination. "Of course, Leia. But please have Winter document it, I'd be interested to see how you do this."

The giftbags were so well received by the staff that Leia made these bags for many years until she had to leave for Coruscant to take up her new position as Alderaan's representative to the Galactic Senate.

Leia had a sweet tooth and once got caught just as she had finished eating an entire jar of jam. Since that jam was Bail's favorite and there didn't happen to be any more in the pantry at the time, her aunts took her to the market to get the ingredients to make more and showed her how to make it, as punishment. From then on she made it for him every year for his birthday; Leia craftily didn't admit she LIKED making jam!

Leia loved jams, no matter what time of day. She learned that it wasn't just for toast. She liked it on her rice pudding, on ice cream, dolloped for a boring pie. It was even a nice sauce for meats that were a bit bitter and strong tasting — maybe too "adult" tasting. It was just about her favorite food, and she wanted to be able to see a whole big pot of it all at once, but she knew her aunt would never approve of such a frivolous thing. So she thought if she could give away most of the jam, she could fulfill half of her dream, even if she couldn't eat it all.

Leia's aunts thought for sure that all the cleaning, cutting, measuring and all the other tedious, sticky, hot, repetitive actions would be adequate punishment for Leia eating up all of her father's store of jam, but she actually liked it. It was heavy, hard work and the young girl slept well when she was done, but she really did find it satisfying. Like cooks of olde, she enjoyed the fruit of her labors, especially when it was lined up in the cupboard, jars clean and glimmering like jewels. So what if she had blisters and burns on her hands? She was never a stylish manicured girl anyway, and actually enjoyed sporting what Winter joked were her "cooking battle scars."

As the various components for the gift bags were created and put into decorative bags for presentation, they tended to take over every horizontal space in her rooms. Though she had a nice suite of rooms just for herself and her companion Winter, she wondered if she'd overreached when she had to put all the leaves in her work table to get enough space to line up all the packets of crackers to go with the jams.

She was not allowed to fall behind on her schoolwork in order to finish making her gifts, but soon ran out of space on her usual work table so she ended up having to do her school work on the floor, which was not terribly comfortable. Winter, who also lost their shared table space, didn't complain, but Leia felt terribly guilty about making her companion share in her discomfort. Thus the process generated its own motivation to finish the project in a timely fashion so that the gifts could be presented to all the recipients at once.

When Leia turned 16 and began her public service duties, Winter could no longer be the newly elected Senator Organa's only staff — there was simply too much to do. So Leia was assigned a clerical and secretarial assistant — selected by her aunts — whose duties included keeping her schedule, keeping her documents and correspondence in order.

Omara Ulu was somewhat older than Leia and quite a robust character, both in voice and personality, and within days of meeting the woman, Leia knew she would not have wanted anyone else in the job. Leia and Winter were kept laughing so hard when hearing her stories of her life that Leia's aunts often came running in to see if the girls were all right! come Yule time, Leia wanted to show Omara just how much she appreciated her work and her friendship even though she had only been a part of Leia's life for a short time. Omara's gift bag became expanded with wines, chocolates, nuts, and small figurines and eventually had to be presented in a large basket rather than the small bags. And for once the always garrulous Omara was rendered speechless ...

When Leia was young, she liked lining up the bags so they looked pretty, one after the other, alternating colors. As she got older, she was less fussy, knowing that the people who received her gifts did not see the giftbags lined up so nicely in straight rows.

When she prepared the bags for the last time before leaving for Coruscant to take her Senatorial oaths and vows, it struck her that the bags resembled rows of guards and stormtroopers: all the same, and appearance was foremost in presentation. This thought disturbed her, though she forgot about it until she was later taken prisoner by Darth Vader and forced to observe the Death Star with its rows upon rows of soldiers. "They'd look nicer with some bows to accent them," was her thought as she was marched to her cell.

Beyond her aunts' desire for Leia to learn to remember and respect those who worked for her, Leia also acquired empathy for those who worked in factories or those who ran cottage industries in their own homes, producing hundreds of pieces of whatever to feed the desire for consumer goods on her planet and beyond, and to make ends meet. Leia had seen gift bags selling for many credits in giftshops and wondered how much the people who assembled them made. As she put finishing touches on the bags that had taken over her sitting room, she felt a bit guilty, realizing she might be denying some families their livelihood by considering doing this on her own. "Next year, I will hire people to help me!" she resolved, and thus she could provide work to those who needed it as well as give gifts to those who deserved to be thanked by the princess royal. Being a princess had more than obligations than just giving out gifts, after all!



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