"To reach real peace in the world, we will have to begin with the children."
It started during the pandemic.
Three of my grandkids were on lockdown in the South Pacific.
My other three grans were "local" but with the pandemic we had limited visits at a distance and with masks.
Christmas was happening and I felt the sting of being separated from all my grans. I wanted us to all be connected and not forget each other so I had to come up with a plan.
I had to consider the time difference. The Vanuatu family (in the South Pacitic) is 18 hours ahead of the US.
There were other obstacles like ensuring I could hold the kid's attention the whole time.
Yesterday we had Gran's 3rd annual Zoom Xmas party.
The two Davis grans, Avery and Andy, came to my house and we celebrated the winter solstice together.
I had decided to also have our Zoom Christmas party on the same day. Why not?
1:30 pm here in California
8:30 am in Vanuatu
Cold winter in California.
Hot summer in Vanuatu in the South Pacific...They were sweating.
Everyone came to the zoom call and immediately I sent all the kids on a scavenger hunt. They were instructed to go outside and find something that represented the colors of Christmas.
Katie in Vanuatu came back with red hibiscus flowers
Avery in Davis found red holly berries.
We sang Xmas carols.
The Vanuatu kids sang us one in French.
My plan was to sing along with a Spotify playlist but the sound wouldn't work on zoom.
So we just sang without music.
I brought back the pop-in pop-out game.
It went like this:
Everyone pop out (of the zoom screen)
Pop in if you...
Know how to multiply
Pop out again
Pop in if you...
like Christmas cookies
Pop in if you remember going down the waterslide in Fiji
Pop in if you've ever planted tulips with Gran
Pop in if you're an earth keeper
Pop in if you've ever been swimming on Christmas Day (all Vanuatu kids jumped in)
I must have had 25 pop-in questions. It kept them engaged.
The popin popout game was a huge success...even with the adults.
I read the Polar Express to them.
If you know it, you know the story is about a young boy who boards a magical train that's headed to the North Pole on Christmas Eve night. During this ride, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
To my amazement, they were all glued to the screen although I struggled to hold the book so they could see the pictures while reading. Ella, 9 years old, explained the meaning of the story for us.
from another Green Grandmother, Helene Van Manen, who came on the zoom call and taught the kids how to sign to the Earthkeeper song. Because they are all Earthkeepers.
Ending the call, we danced to the best song ever...Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas is You.
We had to cue up the sound on each of our phones to hear the music but it worked and we were somehow across 6000 miles dancing together. At first, only Andrew and I danced, but they couldn't resist so eventually everyone joined in, including extra friends in Vanuatu.
I hope they will remember this time when we couldn't be together as a family but that we were still connected.
My grandmother's heart hopes they will always find the wonder of life and believe in themselves.
I am incredibly lucky, blessed, and grateful that I was able to connect us.
I'm grateful for Zoom.
I'm grateful for these beautiful grans that I love and for my son who rounded up the Vanuatu kids who at first would rather have been in the pool.
I tell you my story in the hope that this will inspire you to create whatever you need for your own family, especially if you're not together this Christmas.
I hope you feel inspired to play with the children in your life, whether they're your grans, your own children, or someone else's children.
Or if you don't have children, I hope you can find a child who needs a special adult in their life and do something fun with them.
What I can see is that children, especially at these ages are so open especially if it's fun.
They are receptive and they will remind us to play, too.
They will have to deal with the world we're handing them. They will be faced with challenges and very complex issues to deal with climate change. They will need to be able to adapt and how to know work together and how be creative to find answers to problems.
Our children are watching us and they will absorb and take on the things we do. We can teach them what we know.
We must teach them to be aware of how to treat the earth and how everything is connected. They need us to show them how to be resilient, and confident, and to trust themselves.
Consider how you will play and be in the moment.
Step away from the screens, the texts, and the social media and teach a child what you know about anything. And then open up and learn something from them.
Whether you're around children or not, play, have fun, and do something wild.
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.