George Takei: Christmas at a Japanese Internment Camp

The Takeaway
For George Takei, gift giving will always be associated with something that was taken away from him as a child. The actor, activist, and author is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise on the original Star Trek. But as a boy he remembers being rounded up at the beginning of World War II and sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans. Takei's most recent big project is a called "Allegiance - A New American Musical." It's all about that disturbing episode of American history, and it premiered this past fall in Los Angeles. We asked George Takei to tell us the story of his best gift given or gotten and he took us on a journey back to his childhood. "When I was five," he says, "a day I'll never forget, two American soldiers came stomping up our front porch and banged on the front door and ordered our family out." Despite the circumstances, Takei's parents managed to celebrate their first Christmas in the internment camp. "My parents told us that we were going to have Santa Claus visit us....I knew where [Santa] lived, and it was back in Los Angeles. My mother used to take me to department stores at Christmas time to visit Santa Claus, and I thought maybe he couldn't make it through the barbed wire fence." Takei continues, "Just when I thought he wasn't going to show up, there was a loud 'ho, ho, ho'...and in came this Santa Claus, jingling and jangling, with a bag full of presents."