It’s Never Too Early For Christmas

While everyone is talking Thanksgiving turkey, I’m putting out my favorite Christmas decorations, stacking up Christmas music, lighting holiday incense and soaking in the sights and sounds and smells.


It’s not because Thanksgiving comes a week earlier this year.  We’ve always played Christmas music during Thanksgiving dinner, but by now my music and dvd collections have expanded so there isn’t enough time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to hear/see each of them once.  So I started earlier this year.  


I love everything about Christmas.  There’s no frenzy here.  I don’t love shopping, never did, but gathering a few things to give as gifts isn’t a hardship.  I do much of it online, but I also go to malls on purpose during the season, just for the festive look of it.  


Making fudge and apple cake with a Christmas glaze for my neighbors is nice. (Christmas music plays while we cook.) 


I love church during Advent season.  The faces of the acolytes who carry the light down to the altar candles always look like Christmas  – a bit shinier than usual and quite reverent.  As the kids walk slowly, jeans poking out below the white robes, they resist the temptation to jostle each other and I imagine their parents watch and wonder, who is this child, so somber?  Surely this is not the kid who had to be reminded (threatened) to get here on time.


You won’t find me griping about the commercialization of this event, because for me it never has become that.  If all I ever had of Christmas were the sights and sounds and fragrances, and if that could last for months, I wouldn’t complain.  


Ó Anita Garner 2008

Mean Kids

We know what can happen to mean kids.  If they survive the other mean ones, they often turn into mean adults.  Mean kids are our responsibility. We need to admit that our little precious is capable of acting that way. 


“Want to play with me?”


“No.  You’re stupid.”


“You’re fat.”


“You’re ugly.”


Where do they get this stuff?


What if we establish a zero tolerance policy for this behavior?  Stop it cold.  Say an emphatic no in every single instance.  No you may not talk that way to anybody.


Some parents don’t believe in no. They believe in reasoning, talking everything through, giving the child choices at every opportunity.  That works well some of the time, for reasonable behavior.  But when a kid is feeling like being unreasonable, the question, “How would you feel if someone did that/said that to you?” doesn’t always get the hoped-for result.  Sometimes it elicits an indifferent shrug.


Shouldn’t bad/hurtful actions always require consequences?  I vote for not allowing choices about certain behavior.  I don’t mean toddlers who don’t want to share.  Altering this naturally selfish streak is how responsible child-raising works best. 


What I’m talking about is shunning.  Pack mentality.  Name calling.  Pushing.  Bullying. As hard as it is to admit it, most of our children try some of this some of the time. We can remove all of these from their options and if the situation allows, replace any demonstration of mean with consequences, followed by examples of acceptable behavior. 


We can tell kids that if they don’t want to play with another child, the way to decline is to say “No thank you” or “Not right now” and move away.  There should be no tolerance for getting other kids to make fun of the first one.  No taunting allowed.  No cruel teasing. No name-calling.  No ganging up.  No demonstrations of cruelty, ever. 


If mean is a natural behavior pattern among children, then we need to fix it. We know how to change many other aspects of “natural” behavior (eating from the dog’s dish, skipping baths, etc) and we (and everyone else who’s in charge of our children at any time) need to work to change this too.       


Ó Anita Garner 2008


Putting On A Show

Getting a play onstage is taking a lot longer than I thought, even though I’d been warned repeatedly that it’s generally years from genesis of idea to actual performance.  Colleagues tell stories about the development process, about rewrites and readings and workshops and more rewrites.  But it’s my first play and I’m only now feeling the truth of their words. 


Add into our process the fact that both parties involved are also working on other things at the same time – and I can see now how a a play could hang around for years before debuting onstage. 


Since mounting this play occupies so many of my thoughts and nags me constantly, even when I’m doing something else, it seems like a good time to chronicle some of the “making of.”


The play is called “The Glory Road” and it’s recently been revised (again.)  We’ve whittled down the cast size and focused the action on just one main story (You don’t even want to know how many storylines were woven through earlier versions) and now we’re talking with theatres about moving forward to an opening date.


The “we” in this story is me and the director, Greg Zerkle, who’s been with this project for years and is responsible for urging me (I’m the playwright) to trim and focus and simplify staging and timelines and make all manner of efficient, dramatic changes.  I only follow his advice when I agree with him (it is my story after all) but it’s surprising how often, after arguing my point for hours, I do eventually agree and we come up with a compromise that we both think enhances the play.  This is no accident.  This happens because Greg is, I believe, a genius with a vision.


Greg’s a multi-faceted theatre talent.  He acts and sings and directs and is performing right now in a show at Laguna Playhouse.  A few days ago he closed in a revival of South Pacific in southern California.  So we work between his rehearsals and the rest of our endeavors.


Greg’s wife, Cindy Marty, another multi-talented actor and singer, is gracious about the amount of time Greg spends on The Glory Road. Cindy performed at our most recent reading in Los Angeles and knocked our collective socks off.


So far the “making of” is fascinating.  I never thought something as painful as editing could prove to be so satisfying.  Maybe I’ll post as we progress, and we’ll all find out together whether the end result was worth all these years. I’m hopeful. 


In the meantime, if you’re interested in background information on our subject matter, see


Ó Anita Garner