The actress and mom of two talks distance learning with her kids and teaching them to be grateful this Thanksgiving and beyond.

By Anna Halkidis
November 20, 2020
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Credit: Getty Images

Sarah Michelle Gellar may have played one of the most iconic, and let me add coolest, characters in TV history, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it takes a little more than that to impress her two kids—Charlotte Grace, 11, and Rocky James, 8.

“In my house, I’m never cool—like nothing I do impresses my children,” says Gellar. “In fact, just this morning, my son was on a second-grade call and they were playing mad libs, and one of the mad libs that they had to fill in was, ‘Name a female celebrity.’ One of the little kids yelled out, ‘Rocky’s mom!’ and my son was like, ‘No, no, not that!’—just like embarrassed.”

Luckily, the New York City native says she’s earned some “cool points” by bringing the Travelocity roaming gnome into her home while partnering with the online travel agency for a free Zoom cooking demonstration taking place on November 24. The famous gnome makes appearances on CBS’ Amazing Race, a show Gellar, her husband Freddie Prinze Jr., and their kids love. “I told my kids, in case the elves are quarantined, the Travelocity gnome is visiting us and hopefully if everyone is good, he will tell Santa and then next year we can go on a big travel trip,” says the co-founder of cooking and lifestyle company Foodstirs.

Although a typical way to celebrate in the past, traveling won’t be part of the family’s Thanksgiving plans this year due to the pandemic. That’s in line with many Americans—a recent Travelocity survey found 60 percent said they won’t be traveling to see friends and family this year. One in 5 said they are planning virtual holiday celebrations. The famous parents are shifting their Thanksgiving plans to include watching the virtual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, connecting with loved ones via FaceTime, and cooking with their kids, who typically help out with the food shopping and meal prepping, especially when it comes to making mashed potatoes. “Nobody ever wants to mash the potatoes so, definitely, that’s the whole point of having children—to make sure they can do the labor on the potatoes,” jokes Gellar.

Credit: Courtesy of Travelocity

But shifting to a more serious note, Gellar doesn’t hide the challenges of the year, and that includes assisting her kids with virtual learning. How are they getting through it? “By having compassion and understanding that there’s no manual on how to do this. None of us are perfect,” she says. “All we can do is the best we can and understand that maybe math or reading is not the same place where our other children were at this exact point but that their independence and their ability to pivot and be flexible is a life skill that will probably serve them even better than what they are going to learn in some of those classes.”

And she's been making sure to instill gratitude in her kids this Thanksgiving and always. “I talk to my kids a lot about the fact that, first of all, we should be thankful every day and that this year is certainly going to look different,” says Gellar. “But there’s nothing to say that as soon as it’s safe to travel again, when this vaccine gets out, that we can’t have Thanksgiving in February or March—I plan to do a big one.”

It’s a similar sentiment she wants to bring to her virtual cooking demonstration where she will make her Holiday Safecation Stuffing Muffins, which can be found in her cookbook Stirring Up Fun with Food. “We can still have the same feeling of Thanksgiving even if it’s not about necessarily the meal or the vacation or any of that—it’s about the connectivity and the togetherness,” says Gellar. “It’s a great way to give one more way for people to feel connected when right now we are all feeling so disconnected from our friends, from our family, and from our life.”

The virtual event (3 p.m. PT, 6 p.m. EST) is free and open to the first 1,000 Zoom participants. More details here.

Anna Halkidis is the features editor at Parents.com. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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