Three Groups on Tuesday
On Tuesday I met with 2 Senior groups as well as a group of children. It happened to be the Lunar New Year, so I chose China for our theme. Most of my young and old friends, had little connection to this theme, but they all loved the chopsticks!
Focusing on China
Masks, Hats and Dolls
Others reached for something curious to try on or examine. The Terracotta Army Warrior mask surprised a few!
I had a lot of props for our theme, focused on China. But, the chopsticks were the biggest hit in all groups. Everyone had their own style.
The chopsticks challenge put everyone in a good mood. We were more focused on humor than skill.
Watching all the creative techniques got us all laughing.
While hands were busy, we listened to different recordings of music. One piece had the sounds of a bright and festive lion dance. The other traditional piece was filled with eerie flute and plucking strings and a distant gong.
My youngest and oldest, had the most creative techniques! Luckily we had no eyes poked or sword fights with the kids. They were a fun and wild group at the Shelter that day, so I was taking a risk bringing out the tiny weapons. But they were very curious and so proud of themselves. The chopsticks ended up being a great tool for calming the kids!
Gonging in the New Year!
I actually don't know if gongs are used at all and I hope I didn't improperly use my Chinese gong. But, we created our own tradition by "gonging in the New Year" with special thoughts and words.
Fortunes and Wishes
We all agreed that the fortunes in fortune cookies are pretty useless. We read the words in one and decided we could do better. Each took a turn striking the gong and coming up with their own fortune or words of hope or wisdom. Some folks shared their thoughts and a few kept the "wish" or "hope" to themselves.
My morning group is often so enthused it's hard for some of the quieter folks to get a word in. It was pretty special to watch the focus change as we took turns with the gong. Because the vibration held the sound for so long, it gave each person a chance to hold onto their moment, to think or share their thoughts. My favorite "wish" came with a thoughtful sigh. "I just hope that somehow we can find a little peace with this country of ours."
In the afternoon, we weren't able to use our quiet private room on Tuesday. Our table in the middle of the living room had lots of distractions with staff and residents passing through. But this funny little puppet caught the eye of many and we ended up with more people in our group than usual.
We had fun, even without a screen or projector. The traditional Chinese music played and the little dragon danced on the quilt. We could even see his shadow on parts of the quilt.
I managed to get another woman to just come for a bit. She was also reluctant and kept her distance. Then her dear husband arrived for a visit and the two of them joined in together, with all the activities. At one point, I pulled out a card that explained matchmaking in China, using a compatibility chart. I knew it was beyond comprehension of most, but the sweet husband studied the chart for a moment. "I was born in the year of Rat and my wife was born in the year of the Pig!" He smiled at the conclusion. "It says our match is Quite Charming!" I have no clue how much his wife understood and how much sense it made to the others. But his wife was glowing as she watched her husband announce his sweet conclusion. It was a lovely way to end our gathering!
What Did I Learn? I've done this theme before, so I expected the positive reaction to the chopsticks and gong. I just wish I had lugged less and cluttered less. My Chinese New Year's Resolution should be about simplifying the Quilt Groups. Our gatherings should be more about the questions than the stuff. Props are good, but I only need to bring the special ones.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.