A year in review: Perks and quirks of living with yiayia

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By Marianna Alepidis

It’s been a year since my partner and I moved in with my yiayia. 

Yiayia’s house is a little quieter these days since my pappou’s passing, but between keeping her company and growing our savings, it felt like a no-brainer moving in.

As you would with any new housemate, it took some time for all of us to get our bearings and suss each other out. 

Here’s some observations I’ve made during my ‘Year in Review.’

Marianna Alepidis
The classic fridge gallery.

Perk: Unlimited Food 

It’s quite honestly impossible to go hungry in any Greek grandmother’s home. My yiayia’s house is no exception. Yiayia will go on a grocery run and somehow come back with enough meat to last through a considerable apocalypse. As a consequence, I get granted about 15 kilos of mince from the meat arsenal. Alas, there is nothing sweeter than coming in from a day’s work in the office and smelling yiayia’s keftedakia, fried chips and homemade tzatziki. 

Quirk: The guilt trip if you don’t eat 

My partner, who grew up in the United Kingdom, had to learn very quickly to stand his ground. Whilst being served four fried eggs with a large helping of bacon on the side every morning was initially a dream, the gateway to cholesterol issues and needing to let out your pants two weeks in is not. 

Then, at your attempt to say ‘no thank you’ in the nicest way possible you get… the face. Eyebrows furrowed and a frown, you’ve upset yiayia and to make it up to her, you compromise and just have three eggs and a large helping of bacon instead.  

Perk: No shortage of crockery and glassware

There’s something special about being able to eat off the same orange and brown floral plates that my mum got to eat off of when she was in her teens. You know which ones I’m talking about. Even the glasses are the same ones from my childhood. The great thing about finishing a meal in yiayia’s home is that before you manage to put your fork down onto your empty plate, it’s already been washed. 

Marianna Alepidis
Serious doily game.

Quirk: Where did all these doilies come from?

Nothing tips you off quicker to being in a Greek grandmother’s home than the abundance of handwoven doilies adorning every single surface. Whilst I can appreciate the countless hours of work put in by my ancestors to create these beautiful, delicate pieces of artistry, they can be a hindrance. Having to take a doily off the kettle, the toaster, the microwave, the fridge, the remote, the vacuum, my toothbrush, can get in the way of getting things done efficiently. Don’t forget to put them back!

Perk: Living rent free

It brings yiayia a lot of joy knowing she’s helping us save money towards a home of our own, and boy does it help in this economy. The ability to put what would have been rent money aside has meant that we can save for a mortgage and squeeze in an overseas trip too. 

Quirk: Getting the side-eye when I spend more than $1 on anything 

Turns out I’m not actually allowed to spend any money I have saved. Look, I’m not spending money on a designer bag, but I did buy yiayia a container to put her fresh chicken bone broth into, instead of the yogurt containers that never seem to close properly. “Γιατί ξοδεύεσαι;” [Why are you spending your money?] she would say to me. Yiayia chill, it was four bucks from Kmart. #notsponsored

Marianna Alepidis
My Yiayia and I actually lived together when I was a baby too.

Perk: Keeping my Greek sharp 

Between the Greek television channels that allow me to watch my favourite Rouk Zouk, and having to translate the odd letter that comes through the mail, my Greek has definitely gotten sharper. My partner has even started picking up some Greek too and yiayia is delighted when she hears him explain that the weather outside is ‘poly kruo’ (very cold). 

Quirk: 11pm phone calls to Greece on a weeknight 

Whilst I love refreshing my Greek on the daily, I’m not particularly fond of doing so by way of an international phone call I can hear from two streets over at 11pm on a weeknight. I worry that speaking loud on the phone is hereditary. I’ll revise in 30 years’ time and let you all know.  

Marianna Alepidis.
Yiayia Sotiria and I.

Perk: Spending time with yiayia 

I am so lucky that my maternal grandmother has been present for the entirety of my life. Since the passing of my pappou, who once graced the home I live in, his now empty chair at the head of the table that I sit at every night to have my dinner, I treasure the time with my yiayia even more. How lucky am I to have been able to experience life with all of my grandparents. I’ve learnt so much living here; from her secret recipes to new stories of her adventures with my pappou. 

Quirk: I’m eventually going to have to move out 

The time will come where my partner and I will have to leave yiayia’s very comfortable nest and flock to our own. We know that eventually our time living together will have to come to an end as I think she’s banking on some great-grandchildren coming into the mix. While we may not be physically living together, there’s a box full of doilies with my name on it waiting to make an appearance in our own humble abode when she comes around to visit. I’m truly going to miss living with her; perks, quirks and all. 

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