Many of you know that I am from the south. I was born and raised in Ocala, Florida and lived there 32 years until my husband moved us to Lexington, Kentucky. We lived there for 6 years until we moved to (gasp!) St. Paul, Minnesota. According to my grandma, anything above Macon is Yankee Land.
I am going on record as saying I like Minnesota. I like the parks and the Mall of America. I like the winter (until my toes are too frozen). I like my church, the neighbors I know, and I love my home. It is a beautiful state. I am super happy that both of my kids are in schools that are perfect for them and that my son has the services he needs. I am over the moon that Riley is involved in theater and looking forward to band.
I have lived in Minnesota for 4 years now and I can confirm that Minnesota Nice is a thing, except that it’s not really “nice”. It’s more Minnesota Passive Aggressiveness.
There are cliques that I am unable to break into because I was not born here and did not go to school here. Even the friends of my husband do not accept me as their own. It’s like I’m trying to infiltrate their group. Now, don’t get me wrong. The men are willing to accept me, but not the women. I am not invited to go out with them, or go to their homes, of be a part of their lives. I get it. I’m an outsider.
I’m not even sure I know my neighbors’ names. I know my directly next door neighbors’ names. But the others in our cul-de-sac? Not a clue. I know them as “Drives Blue Van Too Fast Down My Road” and “Eats Donut Every Morning While Driving”. There’s also, “Lives in Green House” and “Divorced Mom”. So, suffice to say, we are not buddies.
I have noticed that a lot of the people here don’t have manners. I’m not talking about table manners. I’m talking about etiquette. The real southern way of life. I miss that.
I miss someone holding a door for me and not just letting it drop. I miss my waiter saying “Yes, ma’am we do have grits.” I miss not having to stomp on the brakes because someone pulled out in front of me when there was absolutely not one human being behind me. For real, you could have waited.
The kind of manners that we’re raised with in the south and the kind I’m raising my own kids to have. We are not born this way. We do not come out of the womb saying yes ma’am and no ma’am. Our mamas expect us to say it and give us The Look if we don’t.
The kind of manners that dictate you write a thank you note for a thoughtful gift. Manners that include inquiring about someone’s day and genuinely awaiting a response.
These are not things that are taught up here. I am alone. My children are weirdos because of it. My daughter was asked why she says yes ma’am and her response was, “Because my mom is from the south”. Her friend had never in her life heard anyone say yes ma’am!
I am counting down the years until I can return to the warmth of my beloved south. Once my youngest has graduated high school, I plan to convince my loving husband to return to the homeland of my birth. Maybe not Florida, but definitely closer to the Mason Dixon line.
I believe that we should think of others before we think of ourselves and that is really what southern manners are. We are putting someone else before us.
We don’t pull out in front of someone while driving because it would inconvenience the other driver, having to lift off the gas, and perhaps we would be in their way.
We don’t let doors drop on someone else. It’s just unkind. We give up our seats to the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone else who looks like they need to take a load off.
When grocery shopping at Publix, if someone is standing in the aisle looking at something, we don’t pop in front of them and grab what we need. No sir. We wait until that person is done and then move up to get what we want. It’s just common courtesy. We don’t think our schedule is any more important than the next guy’s.
We say Grace. In gatherings, at church, at restaurants. We just do. We appreciate the gifts the Lord has given us.
We always say thank you, please, yes ma’am, and no thank you. It’s polite.
A polite society is a nice society. In the south, we aren’t all rebel flags, racists, and rednecks. (Though, to be sure, that is a whole ‘nother blog post)
We are politeness overload and we bring pecan pies made by Great Grandma’s secret recipe. We bring casseroles to our friends who are sick, just had a baby, or are in mourning. We also help our neighbors and wave hello as they pass by. We enjoy our gatherings with friends and family. Yes, it’s backwards sometimes but it’s better than being a rude ass.
I’ve noticed that people up here don’t return the favor when I ask how they’re day is going. There is no “Good, and you?” like there is in the south. I guess their mamas didn’t raise them to respond that way.
You never hear of northern hospitality. That’s because it’s not a thing. Southern hospitality is opening your home to your neighbors, friends, and family to show you love them. We southerners love a good get-together. Any time we can bring food, drinks, and be with others is a party! We’re famous for our pre-game tailgating and fish fries.
We remove our hats in church, upon entering most buildings, and at the dinner table. We respect our elders. We reply to an RSVP because we know that this will let our hostess know how many mouths she has to feed. We give firm handshakes. We pull over for funeral processions to show our respect. We never show up empty handed. We always over-prepare for parties. Better to have too much food than not enough we always say.
We talk slowly. Heck, everything moves slower in the south. It’s the way of life there. It’s too hot to get in a hurry to do much of anything, except use a rope swing and land in the river to cool off. Or, we’ll head on over to your house to sit a spell on your porch under the fan and drink a glass of sweet tea while we talk about all our cousins and their comings and goings.
Everybody knows everybody else down there. We’re probably related somehow. Back home, my cousin’s cousins are my cousins even though we are not blood kin. That’s just how we’re raised. That’s why it seems like we’re all inbred, but really we aren’t. Well, most of us anyway.
Of course, the flip side of this is that a southerner can get madder than a wet hen pretty quickly. We try to keep our cool, but if you piss off a southerner, you better look out. If you hear, “Oh, hell no.” it’s best to duck your head and run as fast as your little legs can carry you. It’s about to be on.
Most southerners are packing so it’s best to not get us angry. It’d be a good idea to work on your manners – hold doors and say please and thank you if you’re visiting. We always know who’s not from around here. Lookin’ at you, Snowbirds.