True southern hospitality comes from a unique place

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 05:15 AM

There is a grand tradition known as “Southern hospitality.” This hospitality is especially abundant in small towns, where Southerners are renown for their courteous treatment of others. But the truest form of hospitality goes beyond common courtesy. It is ethical, compassionate treatment of others.

I have lived in the South the majority of my life, South Carolina to be exact. Part of my childhood was spent on the beach in a small coastal town. And I have come to learn that Southern hospitality comes from a unique lifestyle, one of grace and humility mixed with an appreciation for leisure and laughter.

Southerners still have a laid back way of life that seems to be a bit more relaxed, a bit more sharing and a bit more welcoming than is found in other parts of the world. Southern hospitality is a collection of many honorable virtues: generosity, compassion and the welcoming of strangers and friends with openness and selflessness. Our hospitality comes from wanting to share our homes and ourselves with others.

I am a homebody at heart and proud to be part of a Southern family. From the mountains of North Carolina to the beaches of South Carolina, residents of small Southern towns share a common identity. We are all part of one big family, and to us, family is everything.

We are on a first-name basis with our banker, hairdresser, mailman and butcher. And we invite them to every event whether a quaint backyard summer barbecue or a grand festive Christmas dinner. Eventually, they all become part of our family, too.

Southern family is about getting together to share the news no matter where life carries us. It is about being together to celebrate life’s achievements, no matter how humble they may be, and mourning together during life’s tragedies. It is about family game night, even if my younger brother and I always win. It is about gathering around the dinner table every night and being together to share ourselves and our love.

At my family’s get-togethers, we tend to go all out and do everything a bit excessively, no matter what the occasion. When we entertain, we choose the biggest roasts and use the whole bag of potatoes, head of greens and jar of preserves. We always have more than enough food and drinks. Always enough for second helpings. And we always go the extra mile to ensure everyone enjoys themselves, up until the final piece of cake is cut and the last cocktail weenie is eaten.

When I join my parents, siblings and relatives, we bring together all the mismatched pieces of the puzzle that is our Southern family. We renew and strengthen our bonds by taking time for each other. We cook together, watch movies, attend baseball games and help each other relocate (even if it is to a Northern town for school, bless our hearts).

The best thing about living in a small Southern town and being part of a Southern family is knowing that I will always have a place to go, a place to call home. Having recently moved to Rutherford County, I look forward to experiencing more of that small town Southern hospitality, joining the county “family” and having another place to call home.

Because after all, there is no place quite like home.