Jennifer Garner: ‘The more people you share a smile with, the happier you feel’

Jennifer Garner is covering Southern Living to promote her Once Upon a Farm baby food business and down-home image. She talks about her southern upbringing, she grew up in West Virginia, and about the fact that she purchased the farm where her mother was raised in Oklahoma. The plan is for her uncle to grow organic crops there that will be used for Once Upon a Farm. Garner’s mom, who turns 80 soon, is interviewed along with her in video segments available on the site. In the accompanying video interview, she talks about giving her children a connection to her mom’s childhood, when they had a farm and made fresh ice cream. Garner even made ice cream as a child and sold it to her neighbors. Here are some quotes from the video and from her print interview.

On helping her children understand her mom’s background
There’s something really nostalgic feeling about the stories [from my mother and uncle about their childhood]. You feel like ‘How can I infuse my kids’ city lives, they couldn’t have more a different life… and how can I give them that feeling and the freedom and the joy and the silliness. And the hard work. The work ethic that [my mother] grew up with.

Garner had a homemade ice cream business
When I think about my mom’s childhood I realize how much of that transferred to my sisters and me. We did have homemade ice cream and it was a big treat. I had an ice cream company with a friend of mine. We would crank out, with the rock salt, and we would serve ice cream to neighbors and friends. We would charge them it was a business.

Garner’s mom: You were called C&J ice cream. You went around the neighborhood and sold the ice cream. [When I was young] ice was delivered and you put a sign on your window that said 25 or 50 [for the amount of pounds of ice]. By then we had a refrigerator but it didn’t make enough ice for the ice cream. It’s my favorite memory of being young, but we only made vanilla.

SL: So, what’s your fondest memory of growing up in West Virginia?
JG: The friendliness and patience of Southerners. When I first moved to New York City, my hand almost fell off from waving at every person I passed on the sidewalk—because that’s how I had been raised. I really believe the more people you make eye contact and share a smile with, the happier and more connected you feel.

SL: And you still miss…
JG: West Virginia’s warm summer nights—and fireflies. I miss the easy sense of community (although, with a little effort, you can build that for yourself anywhere). I also miss songbirds at the bird feeder, pickup trucks on the road, and high school football games on Friday nights.

SL: Favorite meal growing up:
JG: Mom’s roast chicken, rice, and gravy with hot homemade rolls. Notice that I didn’t mention anything green—I didn’t eat anything green until I was an adult. There was probably a fruit crumble afterward too—and ice cream.

[From Southern Living]

I live in the south now, in Virginia, but I grew up in upstate New York. I’ve lived here for a handful of years but I only had biscuits and gravy this year, they’re delicious. The politeness and friendliness of southerners takes some getting used to and it’s of course cultural. When I go back to New York I have to remind myself not to smile and nod at everyone. On the flip side I didn’t encounter overt racism among other white people until I moved to this area. People claim that it’s just as bad in other areas of the states but that racists keep it hidden. I would prefer that it stay that way. Nostalgia always focuses on the good things. That’s not a dig at Garner. She’s not doing anything different than any other celebrity and she’s a positive person.

This is Kyle. He is a college junior majoring in finance. He is funny. Really funny. And a troublemaker. Ok, maybe I have a little crush. . This is Ruya. She’s one of three girls, just like me. Look at her smile, what a face. . This is Lesley. She is a dancer—modern and ballet, in that order. . This is Samantha. You should hear her sing “Gravity” by @sarabareilles. She has the voice of an angel. . This is Sydney. “Fashionista”. And a girl who goes after what she wants—ask the nurses. .  This is Kimberly Cripe. She is CEO of @chocchildrens and leads a team of scientists and angels doing everything in their power to wrestle the beasts of cancer, epilepsy, motility disorders and more more more. They win more than not, but still: prayers accepted. . I am always grateful to spend a day with the amazing patients and staff at CHOC. I’m working toward their positivity, determination and spirit. Thank you for having me. . And to all of the CHOC patients I met yesterday— Write me! Or tag me in your posts. I’ll put you up, too, if you like, so everyone can say hi. 🤗❤️

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30 Responses to “Jennifer Garner: ‘The more people you share a smile with, the happier you feel’”

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  1. me says:

    She could always move back couldn’t she?

    • Jerusha says:

      Many of us live where we do because of work or other reasons and occasionally visit our nostalgia places. Sounds like what she’s doing. If I had the money I’d buy my grandmother’s house in a town 250 miles away. That was the one constant in our peripatetic army life.

    • TheOtherSam says:

      And leave the Brentwood Country Mart and all it’s paps? quelle horreur.

      (sorry couldn’t resist. nice article).

  2. Jess says:

    I agree with the smiling, it’s such a simple thing you can do to improve your day and those around you as well. A random smile from a stranger can change my mood in and instant!

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree. I used to work at a grocery store as a teen, and there was a regular who’d come in, and he was always so kind and friendly. We nicknamed him “Mr. Smiley”. It would really improve my night when he’d come in with his positive energy, as opposed to people who would be rude for no reason.

      When I am stuck in traffic and I start hating humanity…I start seizing opportunities to let people in on the freeway. By being extra kind to other drivers, it makes ME feel better. Kind of odd how that works, but it is the truth.

  3. Naddie says:

    As a naturally serious woman who’s been told to smile since I didn’t have teeth , I cringe when I hear this.

    • Nancy says:

      Yep, I get what you’re saying. She sounds like a contestant for Miss America circa 1950. Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone. Ok Jennifer. I didn’t like how she found 15 year old Anne Frank’s words so inspirational about how the best days haven’t happened yet, when we all know of Anne’s fate. Just weird.

      • Celebitchy says:

        Nancy I almost wrote this but I let the quote speak for itself.

      • Dora says:

        It is not weird. She is a human, who has her everyday problems, she is a single mother of three young children, her ex-husband is an addict, and she is trying to be a positive person than miserable. She is smiling and her smile is sweet. Who knows? Maybe her best days haven’t happened yet.

      • Nancy says:

        Right. It’s one of those what was she thinking moments. To quote anyone else to say it is fine, but Anne Frank!? Really?

      • Renee2 says:


        I was just coming here to post this!!! I usually don’t comment on her posts but this is just ridiculous and tone deaf.

      • AnotherDayAnother says:

        The fact that Anne Frank had a positive outlook while IN the moment and in spite of her circumstances is inspirational. The counter to that would be to live in constant dread of the future and that would wipe out any joy to be found in the moment. And, there can be joy in the moment that sustain us when the evil comes – and it comes for everyone. That’s my experience, at least. It’s a gift that Anne Frank left us and her diary is the reason we know and remember and honor her. That’s who she was.

      • InquisitiveNewt says:

        Not at all! Anne Frank is the epitome of hope no matter the odds or outcome. I’d tell any future children of mine that she is who they should emulate. Courage, spirit, hope, humour, resourcefulness: all the hallmarks of our Jewish-ness, that which has kept us fighting and thriving and succeeding, no matter the odds, for nearly six thousand years.

      • Nancy says:

        Anne Frank was a victim of horror. I give her nothing but respect and in no way would I speak against her. It was Jennifer’s comment that I was referring to. If you can’t see the irony of her comment, I can’t explain it.

      • AnotherDayAnother says:

        @Nancy, I completely get your point and why you make it; I simply disagree and have a different perspective or thought on it. I think it honors Anne as used. I’d rather people remember the positive things I contributed and know that’s who I was in that moment, in spite of what ultimately happened to me. We remember her more because we got to know her through her own words. Her end was tragic, along with the millions like her.

    • Jess says:

      It’s not ok to tell someone to smile, I’d tell them to fk right off, and I’m a very smiley person, lol.

    • Nancy says:

      AnotherDayAnother: We have to agree to disagree. The words are beautiful….if they were written by somebody who actually lived to see the best days. I find it almost cruel. She could have used words of someone who actually survived an accident, attack, etc. and came out on the other side happy. Anne didn’t have that ending. She was a girl who could have been so many things in life, and she is. She gave us an inside look of hiding in the dark. It’s hard to bear how she and millions of others lost their lives. IF ONLY she could have had seen any of the better days. I can’t come back to see if you respond. I’m in my fifth month of a high risk pregnancy with twins and just can’t go back and forth! I get upset so easily. Love to Miss Anne Frank, I wish she had the life she envisioned.

  4. InquisitiveNewt says:

    Her comments are as comforting and evocative as warm apple pie. I can almost smell the scents and see the wreathes of steam in her mother’s kitchen, and see the fireflies like sparks in the purpling dusk. Thank you for this, @celebitchy.

  5. Happy21 says:

    I totally agree about the smiling. Smiling at others is extremely uplifting.
    Why the heck does she have to be so dang likeable?!?

  6. Other Renee says:

    This post made me smile just by evoking simpler times in my own life. But I must admit that I’m much happier now despite the complexities of adult life. Quoting Ann Frank is a sign of respect. You need to read her entire diary to understand. Yes she died in horrible circumstances, but her vision and belief in hope that she put into words for us to draw from remains alive.

  7. Delphi says:

    Slightly weirded out that it’s the same cover as Kate Middleton’s Vogue issue. Is it a uniform for rich white moms trying to seem regular?

    • Guest says:

      Laughed at your comment, not because of the rich white moms aspect but because I also saw the similarities with the Duchess of Cambridge’s Vogue cover, and thought maybe she was ‘duchess-ing’ us! I’m not financially rich, but I do own a very similar (but not as new) hat and a white blouse. If I wear them together, will folks think I’m a duchess?

  8. Pandy says:

    Shillin’ like a villain!!

  9. Whatever Gurl says:

    Ugh. I grew up in the South. I visit family there often. I’m not Anglo.

    I have to hear on a daily basis:

    1. “Where are you from?” Better yet, “what are you?”

    2. “Wow, you are dark!” Sigh, all the time. “Like really dark!”

    3. “I need a nanny too. What agency do you
    work at?” When I’m with my children.

    4. “Speak English. We are in America.” When they overhear me on my cell out and about.

    5. “It’s too bad you can’t join the debutante ball, it’s by invite only.” Because in the South it’s still about the pageantry of entering society.

    I can see why Garner feels aw down home on the farm in W. Virginia though!!!!!

  10. Kate says:

    I wish that were true for me. Every time I walk around my office and do the smile at everyone I pass thing I’m just like ok that was enough. And living in NYC you pass like hundreds of people a day on your way to and from work and most of them are conditioned not to make eye contact unless they want something from you (money or directions or to hit on you) so if you smile at them you’re most likely going to get ignored or asked for something or leered at (if it’s a guy who thinks you are expressing sexual interest). It can be kind of draining.

  11. Electric Tuba says:

    Ah yes. Smile and the world smiles with you. Fart and the world points and laugh. And laughter is good for your heart. So if you smile AND fart a little more in public, the world will be even more smiley. Do it for America, Ben’s ex wife. Lol

  12. Iza says:

    She seems like one of those people you meet in life who are sincerely and naturally bubbly, and it just leaves you…puzzled… yet intrigued.

  13. InquisitiveNewt says:

    @Nancy: I speak for the majority of Jewish people when I state that the last thing we want to be defined by is Shoah (the Holocaust). We’ve had many disasters throughout our long history and many names for “disaster”; the point is that we endure, and carry on. I for one would rather not see Anne Frank’s *life* as tragic or remember her only as a victim, but a clever girl who was inspirational. Therefore, if Jennifer Garner wants to focus on that aspect – good for her.

  14. Haapa says:

    Oh I didn’t know there are no birds or trucks or football in the north. Huh.