Sharing Gum Drops and Sugar Plum Fairies at the Historic Warner Grand Theater

Every year at this time I try to fit in at least one Christmas-related musical program or holiday-themed activity. One year we went to see the theater production of “Holiday Inn,” complete with Irving Berlin’s wonderful score.

Another time a friend and I went downtown to the Music Center and participated in the Messiah sing-along with the Los Angeles Master’s Chorale.

And then, of course, there’s The Nutcracker.

Over decades I’ve attended many performances of The Nutcracker, a sure staple of the holiday season.

I’ve enjoyed mini-versions with preschoolers dressed as pint-sized sugar-plum fairies and baby mice, professional ballet troupes in classical performances, and even the “Nutcracker on Ice,” with the story told through interpretive ice skating featuring Olympic skaters in the major roles.

This past week, however, I enjoyed a special occasion with my granddaughters at their first opportunity to enjoy The Nutcracker.

San Pedro City Ballet celebrated their 20th Anniversary of The Nutcracker in the historic Warner Grand Theater. The Warner Grand Theatre opened on January 20, 1931, and became the first sound-equipped theater in the South Bay.

Jack Warner, Jr., one of  four famed “Warner Brothers,”  dubbed the theater “The Castle of Your Dreams,” and it still has that same charm. This ornate theater is one of only three remaining Warner theaters from that era, and the only one completely intact, due to a very active community interest and renovation project.

And The Warner Grand, purchased by the City of Los Angeles and placed on the National Register of Historic Places is an excellent representative of the exquisite art deco-movie palace style popular in the 1930s.

Even with very good balcony seats offering a birds-eye view of the beautiful sets and costumes, I was still curious to see if the girls’ attention would hold.

For one thing, the performance didn’t start on time.

Aimee overheard some of the commotion and returned to her seat saying,  “People are saying they should have a seat because their children are performing. I guess they’re claiming they’re related to a Gum Drop.”

That’s now my favorite shorthand for people asserting themselves into situations with assumed entitlement. “They’re related to a Gum Drop.”

Eventually everyone was settled and we were delighted with an excellent, very professionally produced performance. The girls weren’t restless, they didn’t fall asleep, and to our delight they were very enthusiastic. I think we may have a new tradition.

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And I was pleased the girls enjoyed their first ballet in such a beautiful old theater.

Papa didn’t go with us to The Nutcracker, but was awarded a coveted seat to his own holiday performance– at the elementary school.

Seating was limited to two people per ticket, but as is always the case, parents arrived with extra people, making it a very full house. For some, rules don’t apply– perhaps they were also related to a Gum Drop!


Sophia’s hat and winter clothing were her costume in the school’s musical performance. It was probably 70 degrees outside, but Southern California school children have at least one opportunity a year to pretend they live in a “Winter Wonderland.”

Are you enjoying any special traditions this season?

Do you have a favorite holiday musical or theater performance?

Are you related to a Gum Drop?

“Tis the season to be [insert chosen word here]”

I’m carrying a little placard right in front of my mind’s eye reminding me that the Christmas carols I’m currently enjoying are not suggesting, “Tis the season to be FRANTIC, fa-la-la-la-la.”

G. K. Chesterton said, “To hurry through one’s leisure is the most unbusiness-like of actions.”

Christmas and the holiday season–and all that comes with the month of December–ought not to be a chore. If it is, and for me it has often been so, the scale has tipped into stressful territory, and I refuse to take that trip.


The funny thing is that I really don’t feel rushed and hurried, I only think by now I SHOULD be moving a whole lot faster.

We haven’t yet bought our tree. I have only made a few moves towards shopping for gifts–and those were on-line–didn’t take much energy.  I was planning (in my head) to create a family photo-card–oops! That didn’t happen. I did a little baking for work, but have several other social engagements and I have said I’d bring cookies. I have bought the ingredients–step one?

Christmas Candy

How many days until Christmas?

Our calendar reflects an upswing of activity. There are dinners with friends, a family birthday, a Saturday matinée performance of the Nutcracker with two little girls, and an assortment of special opportunities that only come once a year.

Succulent Wreath

About a month ago I mentioned I’d gone over into the land of calm and didn’t want to leave. Is just refusing to acknowledge that I have more to do than time a reasonable way to maintain a peaceful pattern? Maybe I don’t need to be reasonable. That’s a thought!

I’m not usually able to avoid reciting mental lists, or feeling the rush of time as I check off commitments and the weighty crush of the calendar, but somehow that’s working for me right now as I conduct my own little experiment.

If I continue to move quietly through my entire Christmas season, I wonder what will happen?


My yoga practice is really important to my overall well-being. Typically my inner motor runs fast. And when I began to realize that I dreaded an entire month, 1/12th of a precious year, I acknowledged only I could slow that down.

Yoga, with particular attention paid to conscious breathing, is a welcome antidote to stress. The words frantic and yoga don’t belong in the same sentence.

I found a wonderful little video offering a very easy mini-yoga lesson. if you’re running too quickly and would like to slow down just a little bit, why don’t you give it a try? I think you’ll immediately feel lighter–after you skip through the incredibly noisy ad!

This is where I would normally encourage a weekend exhale, but I think for this time of year, I’m more inclined to aim for slow, conscious breathing. Enjoy it all. Crank up the Carols and holiday songs and enjoy the season.

And for the many of you experiencing freezing temperatures, I would think slowing down isn’t much of a choice. Stay safe, and throw out the expectations. I hope you’ll share how your holiday activities are impacted by a very inhospitable weather pattern.

You might have some choice words to describe your holiday survival plan.

“Tis the season to be ________________.” What word would you choose?

We wish you a joy-filled Christmas…and a peaceful New Year!

This year my life  has expanded to include so many  thoughtful and interesting, kind and compassionate, fun and humor-filled friends from all over the world. I am so much the better for it!  And I wish each and every one…

Christmas Greetings

And thank you to my family (particularly my daughter) for allowing me to  so liberally share our granddaughters Sophia and Karina.  And there will be new Darwin adventures in the coming year. He sends his holiday greetings to you, too.

Peace, Debra