So, I’m living in the south, right? What are some things that come to mind when you think of all things Southern? Sweet tea,” y’all,” grits, NASCAR, and moonshine, are just a few of the obvious ones, of course.
I have deeper connections, though. I think of family, warmth, hospitality, friendship, and especially love. The friends I have here from long ago have pulled me into their arms and enveloped me with their generosity as if I hadn’t been gone for more than a day, much less over thirty-five years. Southerners are just like that.
I went to my college friends “ancestral” home the other night. The parents of this group have passed away, but the kids have kept the house, and everyone meets there for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. Some of the grandkids, age 40, have never spent a Christmas anywhere else. They come, bringing food, gifts, clothing, and they set up the house for two or three days, decorate a tree, gather with their siblings, children, nieces and nephews, cousins, their uncle and their mom’s best friend. The in-laws bring their mothers.
When the gifting and eating and drinking and talking are winding down the second or third day, they undecorate and take down the tree, pack up all the decorations, clean the kitchen and house, wash the bed linens and towels, and with filled hearts and loaded cars, they disperse to their homes in several different towns and states. It is no small feat.
This is where I come in. Last year, I was invited before the rellies arrived, and this year, I was able to come for my overnight after the rellies left. I LOVE being in this home. You can clearly see from the remaining decor what kind of parents reared these people to be ones who would rather be together, no matter the trouble, for these two significant holidays than anywhere else, ever. Not only can you see the personalities of the parents in the things they left behind, but you can actually feel their presence.
All that, and they pass around killer moonshine. On so many different levels, I’m telling you, it’s a house of spirits.