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September 9, 2022

Make Your Grandmother Smile Day

The vital role of grandmothers is more important than ever in today’s busy families. These wise, wonderful women who play an essential role in the care, safety, and education of our families, hold a special place in our hearts.

In honor of all the Awesome Abuelas, Outrageous Omas, No-Nonsense Nonnas, and Young-at-Heart Yayas, Mayor Sylvester Turner has officially proclaimed September 11, 2022 Make Your Grandma Smile Day.

Modern matriarchs run marathons around the stereotypical grannies from yesteryear. They’re active role models who provide a source of knowledge and guidance, preserve family traditions and cultures, and pass down a wealth of wisdom in the stories they share. And though they may bake cookies, they’re tough cookies, too.

“My grandma lived to be 101,” shares a native Houstonian. “She lived in three centuries, from 1899 to 2001. Had her own bookie up to age 96. Apparently she knew the odds, the jockeys, and the horses. She was quite the fun storyteller.”

It wasn’t unusual for a grandmother to live through tough times. The courage they had and the sacrifices they made are legendary. “My grandmother was one-hundred percent Irish, and proud of it,” says one granddaughter. “She raised my mom alone during the depression and ran a small grocery store which is how they survived. The only funny thing I remember is one time she was laughing really hard and her full set of dentures flew out of her mouth! My brother and I were horrified!”

According to some Houston area grandchildren, earning a grin from grandma is easier than ever, and well worth the effort.

“What made my Bubbe smile? She drove a 1967 Camaro and she bowled in the high 200s. She was also a shrewd bridge player,” says one Houstonian. “She always smiled when we came running. She did not, however, smile when we stole her Pall Malls and threw them away.”

We called my grandmother Popo,” recalls a grown grandchild. “She loved to sit in her La-Z-Boy recliner and watch wrestling on TV. She also played Mah Jongg with her friends. Falling asleep to the sounds of the clinking tiles is very nostalgic for me.”

Other mischievous Meemaws go to extreme measures for a good laugh. “She loved to scare us. She thought it was hilarious,” says one granddaughter. “I remember one time we visited and she was laying in bed pretending she was dead.” Another grandmother chased her grandchildren around the house with a lamb’s head, presumably before she threw it into a soup for dinner.

It’s no surprise food plays a huge role in spreading smiles on grandmothers’ faces, and their grandchildren’s, too. “Our Yayi loves having the whole extended family over for holidays and birthdays–each occasion complete with a frosted cake,” shares one family member. But even if you follow their recipes, don’t expect to get the same delicious results. Grandmothers can be notorious for measuring in dashes and pinches instead of teaspoons and ounces.

“My yaya wanted to teach me how to make her wonderful koulourakia. She gave me a mound of dough and sat with me as she told me how much to pull off and roll into the pretty cookie. She never said a word when I would start creating my own sculptures from the dough. I’m sure the thought caption over her head was, ‘This one is never going to get married…'”

Despite the wrinkles on their faces, some grandmothers never lose the twinkle in their eyes. “My yiayia smiled when she saw handsome men,” said one woman about her grandmother. “After not speaking to my boyfriend for a year, she smiled the day he proposed, and then she couldn’t stop smiling at him.”

There are countless ways to show gratitude to your grandma on Make Your Grandmother Smile Day. Take your Babushka to brunch. Talk to your Tutu. Send a bouquet to your Baba. No matter what you call your grandmother, there’s one thing guaranteed to put a smile on her face. And that’s spending time with you.

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