I married into a very Southern family. You’d think that wouldn’t be a big deal given my dad is a native Charlottean, and I’ve always lived here. But, (big BUT) my mom is from Chicago, and although she moved here in high school, she could not possibly know all the “givens” that a multi-generational Southern mama would know – there’s nothing wrong with that, but it means I had a small learning curve when I got married (I mean, who doesn’t?).
My mother-in-law is a true Southern lady. She’s from eastern North Carolina, and is a genuine “Steel Magnolia.” She’s funny, strong, sweet, and loyal. She has a million friends and zero enemies. She managed to raise four boys who actually still call home. She also happens to be turning 70 today and deserves a little recognition!
I’ve learned a lot over the years from her about what matters and what doesn’t matter in a Southern family, and I can’t just keep this knowledge all to myself. Plus, since many of you aren’t Southerners by birth, but you are actually raising your children in the South, these tips might help in your journey.
SO, here are a few things I’ve learned over the years as the daughter-in-law of a real Southern lady:
1. The BLT sandwich was a gift from God and should be treated with respect and humility – meaning only a perfectly ripe summer tomato and Duke’s mayo should be used.
2. The term “most unusual” is almost as deadly as “bless her heart” – as in “that lipstick is most unusual.” Get. It. Off.
3. Speaking of lipstick, never leave the house without applying it. Even the “most unusual” color will do in a pinch.
4. Belk’s was, is, and will forever be the Southern lady’s ultimate source for all things fashion, cosmetics, and housewares. And, maybe most importantly, a Southern couple should always register at Belk’s for its upcoming wedding.
5. North Carolina beaches are one VERY small step from heaven.
6. Most Thanksgivings side dishes can (and probably should) be made into casseroles – green beans, mashed potatoes, squash, cornbread – all casseroles (you have no idea how good Thanksgiving is at my in-laws’!).
7.The Honey-Baked Ham is a required attendee at both Thanksgiving and Easter. No exceptions.
8. A bra should be worn at all times in the house – even in your pajamas – you just never know when friends will show up for a visit (I made this fatal error during one visit to my MIL’s house).
9. All children should have family names. It’s OK if you don’t know the relative after whom you are naming your child. As long as it’s on the genealogy chart, you’re good. But, major bonus points for naming it after a relative who is still living. (Side note: my daughter’s first name was not family and my MIL still loves it – so it’s worth noting that bending the rules is acceptable at times.)
10. Family is everything.
Thank you to my mother-in-law, Sally Perry, for your wisdom – oh, and for giving my kids and me an amazing dad and husband! Happy Birthday, Mama Sashi!