GRANDMA: FED THE NEIGHBORHOOD
If your abuelita was like mine, there were probably times when she had just enough to feed her brood of 12, but she always managed to offer a “taquito” to the neighbors, the milk man or the mail carrier. One of my earliest memories of her is making licuados de platano (banana shakes) for the trash truck driver and his crew. Each time the big truck rolled around, the men would greet this with big grins, as they knew of the treat that was in store. My grandmother was the first to teach me the pleasures of giving.
YOU: RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
The modern woman doesn’t have the same luxuries of time at home the way our grandma enjoyed. But, there are other ways to preserve abuela’s caring spirit.
- Pay for a stranger’s meal. Once when I was having a bad day, the driver in front of me paid for my latte. The simple gesture from a stranger changed my day.
- Compliment a colleague – in a meaningful way. The better compliments are those that point out someone’s abilities. Be specific, for example: “I admire the way you handled that situation with your client, your ability to think on the spot led to some creative solutions for him.”
- Smile at someone. I’m from the south where smiling comes naturally. But everyone can smile. Smiling at someone injects a positive moment in their day – you’re saying “I think you’re worth smiling at.”
GRANDMA: MAKE TAMALES
YOU: MAKE TAMALES or any other traditional dish.
Making tamales is about more than just food – it’s a labor of love. It’s about getting the family together and assigning them to masa-slathering duty, others to stuffing and wrapping duty as you reminisce over cherished memories, create new ones, and preserve traditions.
GRANDMA: SEE THE GOODNESS IN PEOPLE
Though my grandma was a hilarious critic (she once called a man a cara de pedo atorado or “stuck-fart face” – but that’s a whole different story), she was an even kinder soul. She gave people the benefit of the doubt. She liked to believe that most people are sincere and have good intentions. She wasn’t naïve – trust me, but simply believing in people made her world a little sweeter.
In our electronic world of constant immediacy where needs are met with the click of a button, our expectations from our human connections also change. We frustrate easily, we can be selfish, and focus only on the surface.
I want to make others feel the way my grandmother made me feel. When my grandmother looked at you she made you feel like it was just you and her in the world and nothing mattered except you. She made you feel important. You had her full attention.
There’s no modern twist here. Being kind-hearted and appreciating the goodness in people is a timeless classic art – just like my grandmother.
Do you practice a parent or grandparent’s tradition? Share with me @AriMontelongo #AskAri.
Ariana is a graduate of the University of Houston and hosts a public-affairs television program in Houston where she lives with her husband and Beagle. Since she was a 6-year-old-girl, Ariana has made it her mission to serve as a voice for the people in her community. Ariana can be followed on Twitter @AriMontelongo.