I believe there is nothing better in the world than to be Southern. And there is no better Southerner than a Georgian. Born in the mid 1950s, in a small but progressive town in Georgia, I’m quite proud to say I have never lived north of the Mason-Dixon line. Should a stranger inquire as to the whereabouts of my birthplace, I would politely and in a most genteel manner exclaim, “I hail from the home of the Big Chicken.”
I love the south for allowing me the privilege of being a true lady, and for all the terms of endearment learned in my Southern home. Growing up in Georgia, I was taught all the polite expressions and mannerisms a young lady from the south should know. I had all my ‘ma’ams’ memorized just as I had all the books of both the Old and New Testaments learned by heart. “Yes ma’am – no ma’am – thank you, ma’am – please ma’am – how kind of you ma’am – and my favorite, please pardon me, ma’am, were all spoken with the head slightly bowed and the eyes averted. But of all the Southernisms passed on to me by my mother and my mother’s mother, the dearest words are, “Bless your little heart.”
I also love the many Southern customs I grew up with. Fondly, I think of the family reunions at the Methodist Church campgrounds. Aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews – all gathered from other points of Southern origin to share gallons of sweet tea, platters of fried chicken, homemade vanilla ice cream, and the best peach cobbler in four states, as declared by my grandfather. You didn’t have to share our last name to be part of our family reunion. All were welcome.
It pleases me that all three of my children were born in the South and make Georgia their home – at least, for now. As babies, they were often rocked to sleep by the soft mellow voice of Ray Charles singing “Georgia On My Mind.” They have been painstakingly taught their ‘ma’ams’. They will only order sweet tea when dining out. They know exactly what the expression ‘fixin’ to’ means. And they take great pride in the fact that they know how to calculate humidity. As adults they have developed a deep and genuine appreciation for the beauty that is Georgia’s.
It dismays me to see how the rest of the country views the South. But it truly is their misfortune not to have been born Southern. Let them go about their days at a dizzying pace. I’ll just kick off my shoes, curl up with a quilt and a glass of sweet tea and give thanks to my Heavenly Father that I am a girl of the South. For I truly believe from the very bottom of my heart that there is nothing better in this world to be.
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