I may not be the average southern lady as typified by other parts of the map, but I love my roots. While I may not eat grits or catfish, wear cowboy boots, or use the word y'all, my membership card is authentic, and I have an accent to prove it.
There are a few basics of the southern life that are woven through me. Call it my southern fiber. It's a cozy, homey feel to me, and I'm not sure if I can put it to words, but I'll give it a go.
It's sitting on a porch swing for so many reasons- to watch a thunder storm, have lunch with your friends, or snuggle under a quilt in the cold to read a book. It's drinking sweet tea with lime (because I'm a little different), and catching lightning bugs in the evening.
Living in the South means talking to strangers, waving at people as you pass them, and saying "yes ma'am" is a sign of respect- not an insult. We love to have people over for any occasion, as long as we know ahead of time so the house can get picked up (tidied up for non-southern speakers).
It's baking a casserole and a desert when you've found out someone is sick, or has lost a loved one. It's mowing your neighbor's yard when they aren't able to, and joining the community at the football field on Friday nights.
Personally it meant going to church every week (because that's what you do on Sundays and Wednesdays), until it brought me to a beautiful place of having an intimate relationship with my Savior. I'm so thankful for a tradition that showed me the way to my LORD.
There's also a sweet spirit of respect that runs deep in the South. I remember the funeral of a precious friend. As we drove to the cemetery, Andy's sister-in-law asked why all the cars had pulled over to the side of the road. We explained that the drivers were paying respect to the family in the procession. One gentleman stood outside his car with his hand over his heart. I'm getting choked up as I'm recalling that memory now.
There are some common misconceptions about southerns. One misguided notion is that we are all country folk and uneducated. I just love the quote from Sweet Home Alabama, "Honey, just 'cause I talk slow doesn't mean I'm stupid." (I happen to talk quickly with an accent.) Unfortunately I've had people tell me that a southern accent deducts IQ points. Pshaw! At least we have the manners not to say such things to people.
Once a roommate of mine was dating a guy from another continent, and he said that he didn't know there was a difference between being southern and being country. Well there is. You can be both, or either one exclusively. (I've know country folk from upstate NY.) My roommate and I laughed and explained as best we could. She, being a southern, country girl, said she enjoyed going to tractor pulls and fish fries. I, being southern but not country, said that I enjoy going to art museums and plays.
Being from the South doesn't make me country. I'm not a country girl. That isn't an insult to those who are country. It's simply stating what I am not. I do have a lot of country relatives, and they are a good stock of people. (And by the way, country ≠ hillbilly.)
So that's a little about what it means to southern to me. Someday I hope to have a front porch swing and an attic fan of my own.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or about your traditions.
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