Monday, November 14, 2011

Taking the Grand Tour

"Write what should not be forgotten."
—Isabel Allende

One of my Oma goals was to take my grandchildren to Europe. Who better? I've been "over the pond" twenty-five times, and lived there twice. I wrote this goal in my journal twenty years ago, planning the trip for when they each turned ten. Of course this was before I had twenty grandkids and when I assumed I'd be rich in my old age.

Several grandkids have turned ten (and eleven, and twelve . . .) without me, but finally I have a local grand old enough for her Grand Tour. We just took it the other way around.

Chloë in the lobby of Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City

We pretended Chloë was from Paris, meeting her long-lost Grandmama at a fancy schmancy hotel—the Grand America in Salt Lake City. A valet parked our car, and we walked past a long, white limo, so it was easy to imagine we were traveling first-class.

Catching her breath.

Chloë took almost a hundred photos as we explored the hotel. She loved the tapestries, the fountains, and the statues of deer in the gardens. One room caught her eye—the Grand Ballroom. Even with chairs strewn all over and tables only partially put away, it made her shriek with delight. I reminded her she was from Paris and had probably been to Versailles, but this was still the swankiest room she'd ever seen, and she pirouetted around like Cinderella.

There were little cubicles off a long hall, each with a built-in desk. "There's an old-fashioned telephone in there! Is this where people sit to take their calls?" she asked. (The old-fashioned telephone was just a regular phone that had a cord.) "That is so cool."

The bathroom blew her away. Real cloth towels, gilded mirrors and two posh sitting areas, plus "each toilet has its own miniature room!" A bit classier than the 4th grade lavatory.

Chloë is overcome at the Grand America.

Seeing a place through ten-year-old eyes, with a ten-year-old imagination was absolutely grand! I was reminded that to kids, everything is new. Even just a trip downtown can be an adventure—it's all in the presentation.

"Look up, Oma!"

Chloë pointed out every chandelier and every ceiling decoration; she appreciated all the little touches. "The salt and pepper shakers match our dishes!" (At home her salt and pepper shakers match her dishes, too, but I think she expects little paper packets at restaurants.) The waiter "brought bread automatically," crusty sourdough, with a "personal dish of butter," and she got to figure out which of her three knives was especially for spreading. Afterward we stopped in the little French bakery and drooled over gelato and chocolate truffles before we each chose a macaroon to eat at a tiny wrought-iron cafe table in the corner.

"We're making a memory," I told her over lunch. "Do you think you'll remember your first Grand Tour?" "Maybe," she said, her mind on the waiter bringing her lemonade.

Lunch at Grand America

Not to worry, Chloë. I don't remember all the things I did with my grandmas, either. But somehow I knew they loved me and recognized my individuality. Although I was one of 13 on one side, and one of 24 on the other, I felt appreciated for myself, even as I took pride in being part of a large group.

Those are the memories I cherish, and the ones I hope to recreate—a deep, down, inner conviction for each grandchild that we know they are unique and love them because of it. I'll share my vast wisdom if they are interested, and if I have something to teach (that they want to learn) I'll pass it on, but most of what I want to give my grandkids is confidence and faith that they're here at this time with inborn traits, abilities and spiritual gifts that are needed. I want them to have the courage to follow their promptings to go where they can make their contribution to the world.

My true goal for them is to take their own tour of life, find personal adventures and a repertoire of experience that will prepare them for each successive tour of duty: school, mission, college, army, marriage and stops along the way I don't know about yet. That's the Grand Tour I'm most interested in. But I'm glad to be part of the training tours along the way!


Diane said...

What a grand idea!I will tuck it away for a later date with my own grands.

VickiC said...

We don't even have any fancy hotels in our area, but we (grandkids and I) did take a mini tour of the world via photos we found on the internet.
We took a few we liked and superimposed the kid's photos into them using photoshop.

The girls went swimming in the fountain in Trafalgar Square, stood in berets in front of the Eiffel Tower, and dressed in gowns for their photos at the Lichenstein Castle. The boys ran along the Great Wall and road their bikes over the Eiffel Tower.

Not the real thing, but they still talk about the time when we went to Paris.

Travelin'Oma said...

I totally love Vicki C's idea! Thanks for sharing!

Christie said...

What a great idea! I'll bet it so much fun!

Grandma Cebe said...

Kent and I believe that one of our responsibilities as grandparents is to introduce our grands to things/places that they probably won't get from their parents. Whether it's touring the Grand America hotel or seeing the Grand Tetons for the first time, those firsts are wonderful moments.

Susan Adcox said...

I dreamed of taking each grandchild on a special trip, too, but the poor economy has put a stop to that. And I don't have 20 grandchildren, but I have seven, so it would still be a large expense. I guess I'll have to steal your idea. And you are right that it is the adventurous spirit that counts, not the actual places visited.

marta said...

mom, nim said that chloe has been talking about it every since! what a sweet idea and surely a lasting memory. way to make the big TEN a bit deal. xo.

marta said...

mom, nim said that chloe has been talking about it every since! what a sweet idea and surely a lasting memory. way to make the big TEN a bit deal. xo.