(Am I a) Coastal Grandma?

April 9, 2024

I’m not generally a trend-setter; instead, I’m usually a trend-ender (the second I hop on board, everyone else evacuates). But once in a blue moon, a trend emerges that catches me at just the perfect time—a trend so “me” that by rights I should be a veritable walking billboard for it.

Speaking of course about the “coastal grandma” phenomenon. I first heard about CGs from a swanky fashion mag, which ran a splashy feature a while back. I guess it was inevitable, with our aging, rather self-involved population, that grandparenting would become a chic and glamorous thing. I mean, Katie Couric is a grandma! So are Goldie Hawn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Deneuve and Gladys Knight (Gladys has 17 grandPips)!

These lovely ladies of a certain age do not have the “look” sported by my two personal grandmas (a look which included big flowered aprons, sturdy orthopedic shoes, and purses filled with tissues and butterscotch Lifesavers). No, today’s grannies are impeccably attired with garb from Chicos, Coldwater Creek, Talbots and Ann Taylor. Many of them make judicious use of Botox and other fillers; some proudly go “au naturel” (these are mostly the winners of the genetic lottery). The goal is to appear to be 40 at age 70 (and, I suppose, to appear 80 at age 110), to be mistaken for the au pair when out and about with their grand-offspring.

So where does the “coastal” part come in?

Think: “I have a beach house.”

Think: “My beach house is NOT a one-week rental with a broken screen door, rusted outdoor shower stall and sandy floors. My beach house does NOT overlook Highway One, and is not 10 miles away from the beach.”

Think: “My beach house, which I own, is decorated to the hilt with pricey ceiling fans, elegant and matchy-matchy rattan and linen furniture, and has a deck overlooking the ocean. My beach house looks like no one has ever worn flip flops or a wet bathing suit in it.”

So, do these coastal grandmerès stay away from the actual beach? No, they do venture outdoors from time to time, but always protected by big sunhats, bigger sunglasses, and biggest globs of sunscreen. After paddleboarding or sailing their Sunfish, they recline at the shoreline to catch the sunset and sip a tasteful cocktail.

Do I sound envious? Well, I am, a bit. I would dearly love to treat my whole gang to dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants, to trot around Europe with little Aiden and Peter. And it would be just “grand” to afford the top anti-aging serums, and to get highlights for my hair (my current “highlights” are the many gray streaks that always crop up between appointments).

As it is, I clearly don’t belong in a group where everyone looks just like Diane Keaton in First Wives Club. Alas, I am a “coastal grandma” in name only. Sigh.

Maybe I’ll launch an offshoot of the CG trend, one that truly reflects my reality.

I’ll call it “Costco Grandma.”


    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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