A Four-Decade Family Tradition


by 
Tania Thompson
 | Oct 21, 2019
Fitzgerald Family

The FitzGerald, Raymond, Jaeger and Eberle Families.

Smith Family

The Smith family

Tuttle Family

The ​Tuttle family

Brett Bailey

​Brett Bailey and his wife.

Linda Matranga

​Linda Matranga and Diane Glaze.

Over the past year, South Coast Repertory has asked audience members to share their stories of the Christmas Carol tradition in their families. Here are some of the responses we received.

It started some four decades ago as a simple holiday treat: Esther FitzGerald brought her first two grandchildren to see a newish show at South Coast Repertory—A Christmas Carol.

“She initiated this family tradition,” says granddaughter Mariann Raymond. “As time moved on, and as other grandchildren ‘came of age,’ Esther was treating all nine of them and their parents to an evening of A Christmas Carol delight. As the years flew by, 15 great-grandchildren became a part of this fun-filled family tradition. We now total 38 family members and every year there has been many of us in attendance flying in from New York, Colorado, Washington D.C., Seattle and Northern California. In fact, as the holidays approach, we find ourselves amusing one another with notable quotes from the various characters in anticipation of the evening. Thank you, Hal Landon Jr., for pouring your heart and soul into the role of Scrooge for the last 40 years. You have brought our family much joy. You will surely be missed!” Pictured above: the FitzGerald, Raymond, Jaeger and Eberle families at the 2018 production of A Christmas Carol.

​"Last year was our 35th year seeing A Christmas Carol," say the Mark and Artha Smith​ Family. "It has always been the highlight of our holiday celebrations. We so appreciate the dedication of the "family of actors and the behind-the-scenes staff staff" for always making it a wonderful experience. It's evident they love performing as much as we love watching."

“Our family has been coming to A Christmas Carol every year for 20 years,” says JoAnna Tuttle. “My mom started the tradition when my children were very small and we have been coming every year since. Our three generations look forward to wearing our red scarfs and soaking up the Christmas cheer that the show inevitably creates. Many of the repeat cast members actually feel like family. When I married the love of my life five years ago, I knew it was love when I heard he had a red scarf and attended A Christmas Carol annually! A match made in heaven! We cherish A Christmas Carol and are so grateful to the cast and crew for the joy they have given us throughout the years.”

“My wife and I have seen the play every year since 2003, when we started dating,” says Brett Bailey. “We then took our parents to this play as a family night out with dinner and a play. Sadly, both my parents have died and so has my father-in-law. But that doesn't stop us as it only encourages us to remember the good times this night out has been for us all, you could say that these are the spirits that visit us for a short time. This play is when I know it’s Christmastime in OC. It does not matter how many times we see it or how many versions of the story we have on DVD, this will always be the favorite due to the live performance. Hal Landon Jr. is to be congratulated for all these years and performances, we are very excited to see what 2019's 40th anniversary show/celebration will be like.”

“My friend, Diane, and I have been coming to the performance for years now—it is our tradition,” says Linda Matranga. “We are both excited to see Scrooge for this 40th year—we will be there! We hold our breath every time Hal tumbles into his hat!”

More Stories of Christmas Carol Traditions

“My family and I have been going to see A Christmas Carol since my boys were young,” says Alice O’Keefe. “Now I take my sons and their families, including six grandchildren. We all love it. It is a tradition that sets the tone for our Christmas. My oldest grandson, who is now 17, says going with the family to see A Christmas Carol is the highlight of Christmas for him. We’re looking forward to the 40th anniversary show.”

“I have seen this show at least a dozen times,” Mary Margaret Johnston​ says in a Facebook post. “I finally got to take my grandson for the first time. He was gobsmacked! He finally said, ‘That was magic!’”

Share your family’s story about A Christmas Carol here or on Facebook​.

Learn more about the 40th anniversary production of A Christmas Carol and purchase tickets. The best ticket options are weeknights—Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—and the 2:30 p.m. matinee on Thursday, Dec. 19.