Growing up in the south comes with its own set of rules, which become a part of a girl’s life as soon as she’s born. First, always always say Ma’am and Sir (this goes for the guys too) this was ingrained in me so much that I still abide by it and sometimes even to people younger than I am. Your parents are always referred to as Mama and Daddy no matter how old you are, and tea is always served sweet. These rules are taught to you at such an early age they just become a part of everyday life and no thought has to be put into most southern traditions, although some of the things we “know” do require putting much thought into.
Last night I came across an article that said September is Alzheimer’s awareness month, this made me think of my grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s for over 15 years and what a heartbreaking disease it is. That article also made me think of the people in my life that I’ve lost over the last 17 years, but not in a sad way. I remembered the good things and what I learned growing up. We are all proud of where we grew up and of our family, the people who taught us the traditions and values that we follow and pass down to our children today.
But, some things are just known to be the “right” way to do things in the South……..
Always wear your best to church, it is God’s house. This doesn’t mean it has to be fancy or expensive it only means wear the best that you have no matter what it is, you are honoring God and should dress like it. You will be just as welcome in a pair of jeans as in a suit.
Always present yourself as a well-mannered Southern Man/Lady, no matter what situation you are put in. Being a well-mannered lady has nothing to do with how well-educated you are or how much money your daddy has, showing any of this off is considered “tacky.” A Southern Lady may be in the military or a member of the junior league, just remember who you are and where you came from.
Learning to set a table properly is a very high priority along with table manners and if you have passed down things from past generations that’s even better. I am lucky enough to have my grandmother’s china set that belonged to her Mother. My grandmother didn’t have a daughter and I am the only granddaughter, I guess I am actually the fourth generation since my daddy never actually had the china but it would be Great Grandmother – Grandmother – my daddy – me. I also have my husband’s Grandmother’s crystal set which is so beautiful. I do have my own china so these heirlooms are not actually used at my house but are on display in my dining room. Table manners are of the utmost importance. When my children were little and didn’t want to listen to me I always told them if they didn’t use their manners they were going to take formal etiquette classes. Of course, they didn’t want to spend their day in a class learning manners and how to set a table properly so that usually got their attention. Knowing which utensil should be used for which course is something a Southern Lady is usually taught along with learning to set a table. Knowing this also helps in case someone makes a mistake or spills something you can do your best to cover for them and make and help prevent further embarrassment. Making people feel welcome and comfortable is what a southern lady does best!
Being from the South you know that when you are invited to an event you always graciously send back the RSVP. A Southern Lady always arrives at a party she’s been invited to with a hostess gift, it’s just good manners. A Southern Lady would never show up to a party or an event she wasn’t invited to, but if an unexpected or uninvited guest arrives to an event a Southern Lady is hosting she never panics or shows surprise she will do everything to make the person feel welcome. Just as important a Southern Lady knows to write and send a thank you note to her hostess as soon as she arrives home.
If a new baby is born in your town or neighborhood you take a casserole, if a person has passed away in your town or neighborhood you take a casserole. This is the most unbreakable rule I think I ever saw when growing up, it just shows compassion and caring for other people. Always be kind.
Grooming and appearance is not taken lightly at all by a Southern Lady! I think every time I walked out the door as a teenager my grandmother would ask “Do you have on lipstick?” and my grandmother’s color of choice was always Maybelline Bright Red. Which when she was younger she had black hair and dark brown eyes so red was the perfect choice for her! A Southern Lady’s best accessory is a smile even with all of the time that goes into choosing the perfect outfit for whatever occasion she is attending. You can rest assured though that everything will come together perfectly right down to her choice of shoes. Always take pride in yourself.
No rule books are necessary for Southern Lady’s, after all they begin learning the rules as soon as they can talk.
White shoes are not to be worn after Labor Day, but there is a color known as “winter white” and that is perfectly acceptable between Labor Day and Easter.
Chewing gum in public is considered tacky.
You may have a cocktail but please do not walk around with it, have someone bring it to you while you are standing or seated and know your limit.
Do not swear in public, there are plenty of words to use in the place of swear words.
Love your family, always and yes all of them! Yes, we all have “those” relatives just be grateful that you aren’t one of “those” relatives.
Those who attend college know the importance of a sorority and rush week. It is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, your sorority sisters will be your life long friends and go through most of your major life events with you. Believe it or not all of these rules and even more were discussed in my sorority at least once a year to make sure everyone knew the “rules.”
There are so many things that can be written about rules that Southerners should follow, I mean I didn’t even touch on the SEC or Mardi Gras! I have to stop sometime though.
All of us from the deep south are Southern Ladies and well aware of the rules but we’ve all broken them on more than one occasion and will continue to do so but we do love our heritage and all that it brings with it.