The neighborhood moms refuse to do Christmas, and the neighborhood dads refuse to stand for such an outrage. In an effort to mend injured feelings and bring happiness back into the holidays, the neighborhood youth secretly plan a Christmas day dinner that’s destined to have the bang of a Fourth of July celebration.

Christmas Sparks

THIS IS A SAMPLE.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

The North Family:

NICK (the neighborhood “Santa Claus”)
NATALIE (an exhausted new mom)
NEAL (older teen)
NANCY (mid-teen)
NAOMI (older child)
NATASHA (young child)
NATHAN (new baby)

The Garland Family:

GUY (a polished professional man)
GABRIELLE (a polished professional woman)
GLORIA (older teen)
GRANT (young teen)
GREGORY (young child)

The Joseph Family:

JOHN (a mechanic)
JOY (the neighborhood cookie-baker)
JOSH (mid-teen)
JULIE (older child)

The Harper Family:

HAROLD (sports fan)
HOLLY (the perfect homemaker, mom, and business woman)
HILLARY (older teen)
HOPE (older child)

SETTING

The play takes place during the Christmas season in a neighborhood in Ridgeville, an American city. The Norths live in a small colonial with an “It’s a Boy!” banner on or above the front door. The Garlands live in a split foyer home with candles in its four windows. The Josephs live in a split-level home decorated with Christmas lights; on their roof is a racecar in blue lights with Santa in the driver’s seat. The Harpers live in a little rambler-style home with double-decker gazebo next to it.

 

ACT I

SCENE 1

NORTHS’ CORNER LOT

(CURTAIN opens. It’s a morning in late autumn at the neighborhood bus stop. There is a green utility box and a pine tree and a line of four mailboxes. NAOMI, GRANT, GREGORY, JULIE, and HOPE enter from different places, running and carrying backpacks. GABRIELLE, JOY, and HOLLY follow their children on stage. The younger children throw their backpacks down in a pile and play tag. ALL PLAYERS are wearing heavy coats.)

HOLLY

(Calling to Naomi.) Hey Naomi! We hear you have a new baby in your house!

NAOMI

(She stops running and turns to Holly. Her tone of voice is bright.) Yeah, we do. A little boy. Nathan.

JOY

How’s your mom holding up?

NAOMI

She takes Tylenol a lot. She must have a lot of headaches. (Runs off to play tag.)

GABRIELLE

(Shakes her head.) Five children . . .

HOLLY

Can you imagine?

JOY

She’s insane.

(Sound offstage of school bus stopping. NAOMI, GRANT, JULIE, and HOPE pick up their backpacks and line up for the bus. GABRIELLE, JOY, and HOLLY hug their children and wave good-bye. Children exit stage as if getting on the bus.)

HOLLY

(Voice touched with hysteria.) How in the world can a woman have a new baby during the holidays?

JOY

(Slumps her shoulders and sighs.) Oh, I know what you mean. Even without a new baby, I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done.

GABRIELLE

I’ve been having nightmares for a month!

HOLLY

(Voice charged with stress.) The girls want to have their friends over on the 13th. My husband has invited his boss over for Christmas Eve. My brother-in-law’s family is coming over on New Year’s Eve, and all of my family will be here on New Year’s Day.

JOY

(Even more stressed out than Holly.) I just found out that we’ll be having Josh’s hockey party with the whole league and that I’m baking all of the dessert.

GABRIELLE

(Voice shrill with panic.) Guy didn’t get a bonus this year. All of my credit cards are maxed out. But I still have twenty-two presents to buy and send before the 15th.

HOLLY

My silver needs to be polished; my carpet needs to be cleaned; and my tablecloths need to be replaced.

JOY

Making cookies and brownies for the kids on Josh’s team and their families is work enough, but for the whole league? I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I can’t believe John made this decision without asking me.

GABRIELLE

That will leave only ten days to shop for Guy and the kids.

HOLLY

Why do we this to ourselves, year after year?

JOY

Just once, I’d like to sit down on Christmas Eve and watch It’s a Wonderful Life all the way through!

GABRIELLE

And see The Nutcracker performed live.

JOY

Why can’t our husbands take their share of the load?

HOLLY

(Sarcastically.) You’re right. A man who can’t cook Christmas dinner is a menace to society.

GABRIELLE

Guy’s just going to have to shop for his own family this year.

JOY

And John’ll have to buy dessert for the party at the warehouse store!

HOLLY

Harold can take his boss to dinner, and my girls can plan their own party. I’m going on strike!

 

SCENE 2

NORTHS’ NURSERY

(NATALIE is sitting in a rocking chair, breast-feeding her baby. There is also a crib in the room, along with a TV and disc player. NICK enters and approaches Natalie.)

NATALIE

(Sighs in gladness and relief.) You’re home.

NICK

(Hugs Natalie as well as he can.) Your day’s been that bad?

NATALIE

I’m just glad to see you.

NICK

The house looks good. What good fairy came and cleaned it?

NATALIE

Holly. Wasn’t that nice of her?

NICK

It was. Anything left in the fridge for dinner?

NATALIE

You have your choice. Chili dogs or frozen burritos. Oh, and there’s a little ham left. It’d probably taste good in scrambled eggs.

NICK

I don’t know . . . I think the kids are tired of egg burritos.

NATALIE

So am I, to tell you the truth. Oh Nick, what am I going to do? I thought Thanksgiving would be the difficult holiday, and here I am, two weeks after having a baby, too tired to make dinner. How am I going to do Christmas?

NICK

Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to do everything you normally do.

NATALIE

That’s just it. I can’t do anything! I sat down at the computer today to write the Christmas letter, and I couldn’t think of a thing to say. My brain is gone.

NICK

So don’t do the letter this year.

NATALIE

But it would be such a good way to announce the birth of the baby.

NICK

If you feel that strongly about it, write the baby info in the cards, sign them, and send them. Everyone we know will understand why there’s no letter.

NATALIE

I wish our families were closer.

NICK

Well, they aren’t. There isn’t anything we can do about that.

NATALIE

I just want us to have a nice Christmas. Is that too much to ask?

NICK

Yes, it is! You just had a baby!

NATALIE

I didn’t say I wanted a perfect Christmas, just a nice one.

NICK

Then here’s what we’ll do. You make a list—a short list—of the things that really must be done. Then we’ll schedule time to do those things. You do what you can, and the kids and I’ll do the rest.

NATALIE

(Laughs.) I can just see us eating your egg burritos off of paper plates on Christmas day!

NICK

Don’t worry. We won’t have egg burritos. I think I can warm up a ham. And the warehouse store has good potato salad.

NATALIE

The kids hate potato salad!

NICK

Then we’ll get them potato chips! (They laugh together.)

NATALIE

Sounds more like a Fourth of July picnic than Christmas dinner!

NICK

It’ll definitely be a Christmas to remember.

NATALIE

I think I can manage some kind of hot potato dish. But the warehouse store does have good cheesecake.

NICK

You’re starting to get the picture! Please, Natalie, don’t worry about Christmas. Everything’ll be fine. You feel like pizza tonight?

NATALIE

(Shakes her head.) Chinese. With shrimp and lots of veggies.

NICK

Will do.

NATALIE

You’re a fine cook!

NICK

Aren’t I though?

(NICK exits.)

NATALIE

(To the baby in a kind of exhausted contentment.) Are you worth it, Nathan?

(Lovingly, to Nathan.) Of course you’re worth it.

(Pauses, then looks at Nathan impishly.) But you’d be more worth it if you’d let me get some sleep.

(In a high voice, as if she’s talking for Nathan.) He-he-he-he . . . Not a chance, Mom.

(As herself.) That was a wicked laugh . . .

(As Nathan.) It’s the chocolate, Mom. It’s making me crazy!

(As herself.) Watch it . . . or it’s Kung Pao beef for you, baby.

(As Nathan.) Bring it on! I survived the egg burritos with Tabasco sauce!

 

SCENE 3

NORTHS’ CORNER LOT

(It is a late autumn evening. HAROLD, JOHN, and GUY enter from various directions, as if they’re coming from their houses, to get the mail. All are wearing heavy winter coats.)

HAROLD

(To John as he opens his mailbox.) Hey, how’s it going?

JOHN

(Approaches his mailbox.) It’s going.

HAROLD

(To John, looking in the direction of John’s house.) See you finally got your lights put up.

GUY

(Approaching mailbox, gazing in the direction of John’s house, voice touched with disdain.) Your racecar is . . . interesting.

JOHN

(With pleasure.) Isn’t it?

HAROLD

A manly kind of Christmas symbol. (JOHN and HAROLD hoot.)

JOHN

(To Harold.) That watchtower of yours needs a star.

HAROLD

I know. Holly won’t go for it, though. Says it would be—

GUY

Tacky?

HAROLD

Yeah.

JOHN

(Shaking his head.) Women. (Pauses.) I spent my entire Thanksgiving weekend, in the sleet, putting up lights for her, and what kind of thanks do I get? She tells me she’s going on strike!

GUY

When am I supposed to shop for my family? I work overtime for two months so that we can afford Christmas!

HAROLD

My wife has her family over every New Year’s Day. She won’t let me watch football, and she makes me play these stupid games. And now, it’s too much trouble for her to cook dinner for my boss on Christmas Eve!

GUY

We get no respect.

JOHN

No respect!

HAROLD

We’re supposed to be the kings of our castles, and we’re being treated like servants!

GUY

Are we going to stand still for this abuse?

JOHN

No way!

HAROLD

Holly thinks a star would be tacky? Just wait till she sees what goes on top of the watchtower this year.

JOHN

(Interested.) What do you have in mind?

GUY

I don’t think I want to know.

 

SCENE 4

NORTHS’ CORNER LOT

(NEAL, NANCY, and NAOMI are sitting on the green utility box and are in a bickering mood. ALL PLAYERS in this scene wear heavy winter coats.)

NAOMI

(On the verge of tears.) Dad just can’t make egg burritos on Christmas!

NEAL

Knock it off, Naomi. He didn’t mean it. He just said that ’cause you were whining about having nothing to eat.

NAOMI

Well there isn’t anything to eat! There’s been nothing good to eat since Mom had the baby!

NANCY

(Argumentatively.) That isn’t true. Several ladies from church brought dinners by right after Mom got home from the hospital.

NAOMI

But those were weird dinners!

NANCY

You’re too picky!

NEAL

(Nodding.) The dinners may’ve been different, but they got eaten fast enough.

NAOMI

That’s only ’cause Mom ate it all!

NANCY

(Shrilly.) ’Cause having a baby’s hard work!

NEAL

(Yelling.) Knock it off!

(Enter GLORIA, GRANT, JOSH, JULIE, HILLARY, HOPE, talking with each other, appearing unhappy.)

NEAL

What’s going on?

GLORIA

We’re so depressed.

 JULIE

We don’t know what to do.

 HILLARY

Our moms are going on strike.

JOSH

And our dads are furious!

 NANCY

(On the verge of outrage.) But the holidays are supposed to be full of fun!

NEAL

(Nodding in agreement.) With music and parties and lots of food!

GRANT

(Shaking his head.) Not this year. Not for us.

NANCY

You’re serious? Your moms are really on strike?

(GLORIA, GRANT, JOSH, JULIE, HILLARY, HOPE nod and sigh collectively.)

NEAL

They’re not going to do anything for you this year?

NAOMI

(Aghast.) No presents?

GLORIA

My mom says everyone but Gregory’s getting cash.

NEAL

That wouldn’t be so bad.

JULIE

Speak for yourself!

HOPE

I want presents!

HILLARY

(To Hope.) Mom said we would get presents. Just no parties.

JOSH

My mom won’t help my dad with my hockey party.

GRANT

All the moms told the dads that they have to cook Christmas dinner.

NANCY

And I thought things were just crummy at our house.

HILLARY

Don’t you like having a new baby?

NAOMI

I haven’t decided yet.

NANCY

Nathan won’t sleep at night, and Natasha won’t sleep during the day.

NAOMI

Mom’s getting weird. And we’re starving. All Dad knows how to cook are those gross egg burritos.

JULIE

Sounds like things are pretty crummy at all our houses.

NEAL

(To Nancy and Naomi.) At least our mom’s not on strike—yet.

NANCY

(In horror.) You don’t think she would, do you?

NAOMI

Mom wouldn’t do that!

JULIE

I never thought my mom would.

GRANT

Neither did I!

NANCY

(Miserably.) And our mom has a better reason than any of them.

NEAL

Than any mom in Ridgeville!

NAOMI

(In despair.) What are we going to do?

JOSH

Do you think your mom knows about the strike?

NEAL

Don’t know. Prob’ly not. She’s pretty out of it.

NANCY

She is spaced out.

HILLARY

Then maybe you can keep her from finding out about it.

NAOMI

How?

GLORIA

You could do things for her. Like the Christmas decorating.

NAOMI

That would be fun!

NANCY

(Unsure.) I don’t know if she would let us do that. She’s usually so funny about getting everything just right.

HILLARY

Don’t give her a choice.

NEAL

Hillary’s right. We’ll just bring the stuff up from the basement and do it while she’s feeding the baby.

NAOMI

We could watch Natasha more so that she can sleep.

NEAL

That’s a great idea! If she’s sleeping, she won’t be talking to the other moms in the neighborhood.

HOPE

You could even do the Christmas cards.

NANCY

(Laughing.) Maybe this will work! Mom’ll be so amazed at all the work we’re doing that it will never occur to her to go on strike!

JOSH

(Thoughtfully.) Maybe if the rest of us do stuff for our moms, they’ll stop going on strike!

GRANT

(Face brightens in hope.) You think?

HILLARY

That’s a great idea!

JULIE

You really think we can do all of the stuff our moms usually do?

JOSH

(Waves dismissively.) No problem.

HILLARY

We’ll let the dads think the moms are doing the work. That’ll cool them down—

HOPE

And we’ll let the moms think the dads are doing the work—

GRANT

That’ll cool them down.

NANCY

Your moms’ll get the break they’ve been wanting.

GLORIA

We’ll form committees and work together to pull this off.

(KIDS nod their agreement and excitement.)

JULIE

And everyone will be happy!

END OF SAMPLE.

For the complete play, please see Tis the Season To Go On Strike.


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This work by Katherine Padilla is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.