I wrote a blog about 3 years ago titled My Southern Ways, that has become one of my most popular blogs to date. Mainly because I think we southerners are fascinating. Southern women especially, we are classically elegant, fiercely strong, and full of charming hospitality. So here are the 10 lessons I hope I’ve imparted on my girls, of how to be a southern woman.
1. Ma’am and Sir. Ok, when my kids were little I said “no ma’am, you better not touch that”, or “no sir, don’t even think about it” to them. These are normal parts of southern language, and we teach it young. If you’re a child and your getting a lesson or talking to (aka, a lecture) from mamma and daddy, they are sir or ma’am, as is any adult…at all times. Sayings like “thank you ma’am” are common phrases to be heard out and about, like the grocery store for instance. Sir and Ma’am are how you always address your elders. To me, nothing is more quintessentially southern.
2. Mamma and daddy. I love this, so much more personal than mother or father, so much sweeter than mom or dad. Southern parents are mamma and daddy, plain and simple, and you call them that for the rest of your lives, you never outgrow it. My mamma and daddy will be mamma and daddy until the day I die.
3. Twang. A southern twang (accent) is recognized around the globe, I’m proof. As seen from the first two things on the list, it’s pretty evident that southerners just say things different. It’s not just y’all, though I say that ALL THE TIME, it’s everything we say. Some call it a southern drawl, because we drawl everything out a bit. It’s charming, comforting, and defining. I spent a lot of my life wanting to hide my accent, and really, now I am so glad to embrace it.
4. Lipstick and jewelry. These two things are staples in southern girl attire. It’s just a part of southern elegance. Not that southern women are china dolls, far from it, they are the fiercest and most fearless women I know. We’ve grown up with hero’s of old like Annie Oakley, Sacajawea, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Calamity Jane. No, Southern women know they can do anything they want, and nothing is gonna hold them back, they just know how to look beautiful while doing it. And yes, “girl go fix your face” is a real thing we’ve all heard our mama’s say, because ain’t no way you’re gonna walk around looking weak, so fix your face and keep it together, and show them they can’t mess with you.
5. Clutter. Southern women embrace what I like to call comfort clutter. Now, clutter is NOT the same as mess. Southern women are not slobs, their homes are always ready for a drop in visitor. But, they understand the importance of a cozy environment. You don’t see a lot of steel and clean lines in the average southern home. We understand someplace you want to live in, color, texture, and dimension. We are comforted by a neatly placed stack of books or magazines to read, a cozy blanket seemingly ‘left out’ on a chair to snuggle in, pillows galore (we love our accent pillows) and an interestingly placed piece of art to ponder.
6. A beautiful table. Feeling invited, fussed over, and comfortable is as easy as a beautiful table. It doesn’t matter what is being served, it feels special if the table is set. And, nothing dresses up a table like flowers and candles. Yes, we southern women love both. I have so many candles and oil lanterns in my house that we can light it up like daylight if the electricity goes out.
7. Hospitality = food. It doesn’t have to be a whole meal, but Southerners love to feed people. I was so surprised on my recent visit to Holland upon our group of Southern ladies being reprimanded for digging into the treats displayed on the table. In the south, feelings are hurt if you aren’t willing to indulge in the hospitality and sample the treats, it’s simply rude. Apparently this is not true worldwide… That same trip, those people could not believe when we served a party, and us Texas girls ran around serving people the whole time, and never sat to eat. This is just simple southern hospitality. You take care of your guests. It’s true in business as well, walk into any store or shop in the south and you will be assisted, waited on, chatted to, and offered help at least a billion times. This is how we run our homes and businesses, with other’s as the priority, and it’s beautiful!
8. Sweet tea. So overstated, and yet still cannot be emphasized enough. You cannot have a Lunch in the south and not offer sweet tea, the results could be disastrous. Truly! But in the south, not to worry, no restaurant or store is without it. My son is always bewildered when we go to a restaurant in another state, and he can’t order sweet tea. In the south, such a restaurant would close.
9. Cast Iron Skillet. Every southern home has a seasoned cast iron skillet. You may even have grandma’s cast iron skillet that has never been washed, EVER. We pass them down, and fight over them, like other cultures fight over jewelry of heirloom vases (but don’t worry, we pass those down and fight over them too). I heard once, that in India, it is a great compliment to a woman to say that she has excellent flavor in her hands. Well to translate this to a southern woman, would be to say she has excellent flavor in her skillet, and you can bet she does. We love a good, no fuss, cast iron skillet in the south. Plus as a bonus, it can be used as a weapon of self defense.
10. Sundays. Sundays are for Jesus and football, in that order. I personally could live without the football part. I just go for the chit chat and game day food, because as stated before, it’s the south…there’s always food. But in the south, Sundays are still a day of worship as a general rule. Church parking lots will be full Sunday morning, and any restaurant on Sunday at lunch is going to be filled with the church crowd in their Sunday bests, and I for one, wouldn’t want it any other way.