Living out west has opened my eyes to the immense differences of being raised elsewhere. I’m a Georgia native and Colorado transplant. I’ve adapted well to my new environment while clinging onto the charm of The South. My southern cohorts will be surprised and a bit dismayed to hear that I make my own juice, drink green smoothies and support the FTT (Farm to Table) aspect of dining. It’s called adapting to your environment in a healthy and graceful way and I encourage everyone to do so.
However, there are a few Southern idiosyncrasies that I will hoist with me endlessly. I believe, that these attributes speak to who I am, who my parents raised me to be and what I want my children to encompass. The South is full of charisma, wit and gratitude and I place confidence in the fact that by gaining at least one of these facets, you’ll be a little happier inside.
Without further ado, listed are my top 10 “Southern Traits” life, in no specific order.
1) Plan events around meal times. Yes, food is important and the joy of indulging in your choice dishes with your beloved tribe is quite the experience. You will learn more about someone over a pot roast and a glass of wine than you will anywhere else.
2) Keep extra cards, gift bags and bottles of wine on hand at all times. I have baskets filled with sympathy cards, birthday cards and thinking of you cards. I have gift bags and gift wrap of all sizes and I store backup gifts in my basement. You never know when you’re invited to a last minute birthday party, you learn of a friend suffering a loss or you want to just say hello. Having gifts on hand is necessary. I tap into my gift supply multiple times a month (and lucky for me, I’ve always got bottles of wine on hand)!
3) If you’re throwing a party for 15 people, make food for 20. Nothing is worse than running out of food. And when you throw a party, you spend days making sure it’s perfect, you don’t want guests whispering behind your back about the lack of grub. I ALWAYS have way too much food and that’s the way it should be. When there are endless supplies of food, your guests won’t feel guilty about getting seconds, thirds, fourths.
Trust me, the guests of my annual gingerbread house party will tell you that I overdid it on the food (but when people are drinking, they need to be eating… thank you mom for that lesson).
4) Never arrive to a party empty handed. Speaking of parties, if you’re a guest… bring something! Whether it’s food or drink to contribute to the party or a gift for the hostess, never walk in the house empty handed. The hostess puts a lot of time, thought and money into her shin digs and she’s always thankful for offering guests. (Luckily, our Colorado guests are well versed in this trait. They always ask what they can bring or how they can help.)
5) Bring food to those who are sick, grieving or with new child. Everything in The South involves food, it’s a little intense, I’ll admit. However, families in grieving or ill lack the energy and will to cook food. Often times, words can’t express your heartfelt warmth for what they’re going through. But giving them the ability to eat a casserole together as a family, may be the greatest gift of all.
Parents with a new child, this is a no brainer; I ate saltine crackers and pickles for the first three months. I barely had time to shower and when our dear friends brought us food, we were so so so very thankful.
6) Teach your children the importance of Mr. & Mrs. and Yes Sir / No Sir. I still refer to my friends parents as Mr. & Mrs. And as a mother myself, I will teach Marshall to refer to his elders as Mr. & Mrs. It’s an automatic statue of respect. Children will adjust their demeanor when in the presence of a Mr. & Mrs.
Same goes for Yes sir / No Sir and Yes Ma’am / No Ma’am. Should my friends choose not to be called Mr. & Mrs. or Sir & Ma’am, they can let me know. However, it’s a choice in how I raise my children and many people respect that decision.
7) Get dressed, even if you’re going to the grocery store for milk. Yes, I judge people when I see them in their pajama pants in the ice cream aisle. I’m not saying curl your hair and wear a fancy dress, but leave the sweat pants at home. I’m from a small town in Georgia and I live in a small town in CO and everytime I go to the grocery store, I run into an acquaintance. My mom always told me to throw on yoga pants, a baseball cap and a little lip gloss. People will say, “Ah man, she’s so fit. She even works out on Sunday mornings.” 🙂
8) Don’t slum it on the golf course. It amazes me as I drive past Colorado golf courses and see men and women dressed in jeans and t-shirts. I get it, Colorado is a bit more relaxed, but come on, the sport of golf is one that needs to be held to a standard of class and dignity. Dig your khakis out of the closet and throw on your favorite polo shirt. And if you don’t have khakis, I’ve included a link to Gap. Please, browse through America’s favorite “it is possible to have style” shop.
9) Your kitchen should house fresh baked goods, at all times. We have an open door policy and our friends use that to their advantage. I receive phone calls weekly from folks wanting to pop-in and catch up or see our little one. I always have wine, coffee and fresh baked goods to offer my company. On Sundays I bake something new for the week, because not only is it nice to have something to offer company, but we love having fresh dessert every night!
10) Be friendly. Be welcoming. Be open. This one is simple. I walk the streets of CO and am surprised by the amount of bypassers who look down and walk faster as they pass. In The South, it’s always “Hello”, “How do you do?”, “Cute dogs!” I am constantly embarrassed as I’m walking my dogs through the neighborhood and wave to unfriendly cars as they drive by. I wave, I get nothing, I say hello, people walk faster. It’s the worst. Colorado and other states above and west of the Mason Dixie line, fix this!