Born and raised in a small south Georgia town, I was immersed in a lifestyle like no others. Growing up around southern women is a special experience. Lovers of gossip, gratitude and good food these women taught me life lessons under the scope of hospitality. Going out of your way to help someone is the norm not the exception.
As I write this blog from my southern perspective, I feel it only fair to establish my southern roots. When I think of what it means to be southern, I think of my grandmothers and aunts. These women are who I get my southern identity from and who I look to in establishing what southern means to me.
My maternal grandmother literally put a home-cooked meal on the table every single day my grandfather was living. This entailed cooking a meat, veggies and homemade biscuits every meal his feet were under the table. I learned to sift flour, knuckle a whole and pour milk in a bowl as a first grader. I bowed my head at this table almost every meal blessing the food she had prepared but would barely eat. I can remember spending Saturday mornings venturing out to local yard sales with my Grandmother, great Grandmother and great Aunts. These days were always an adventure as everyone of them were too short to see over the steering wheel this being further compromised by their bottle thick eye glasses. At the time I didn’t notice but family was the center of our existence as most southern family’s will agree.
My paternal family epitomizes southern living. As a child I spent my Sundays eating my Nana’s home cooking. Never on the table was the salt or pepper and don’t ask for it – you’ll quickly learn it has already been seasoned the proper way. The kitchen is the center of my Nana’s home. When at her house we all gather around the table reminiscing of old times, sharing recipes and picking up where we left off at the last occasion. Thinking of these times I hear the cackles of my aunts as we clean the kitchen or eat another piece of pie. It is a Christmas tradition to cook the cake featured on that years Christmas issue of Southern Living Magazine. Sweets are a staple to our southern family. The desert table is somehow always the same length as the dinner table. Store bought? ‘GASP’ You wouldn’t dare. Sweets are sacred and always homemade.
Gossip is another huge part of my upbringing. It is a way of life. Police scanner’s were in every room of my Grandmother’s home and if there were an ambulance involved, we would rush out of the door to go drive by. Malice was never the goal of our gossip, it is just something that comes along with gathering regularly and with being hospitable. How else were you to know Betty Sue was sick needing prayers and fried chicken?
Southern is a way of life that can only be established at the beginning. One cannot just become a ‘southerner’ you must be born into it. It is an elite and special lifestyle that we share. I am thankful I was privileged enough to grow up as a southern lady with strong southern women around me. I strive to be my grandmother’s and my aunts. This blog is part of that journey in further acquainting myself with my southern heritage. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy sharing.