While much of what we learn comes from reading, it is from observing those who set a good example that we get the most understanding. What person has had the most influence on you regarding Southern Hospitality, manners, and etiquette?
In my case, it was my Aunt Elizabeth. Elizabeth Sullivan has always been the one who comes to my mind when Southern Hospitality is mentioned. Aunt Elizabeth is my father’s sister, and spent most of her life on the farm in south Georgia after being raised on the McGehee farm in Florida. She spent many years teaching Home Economics at the local high school. Though she is now spending her last days in a rest home, I suspect that in her mind she is still preparing her home for guests. I use her as the example, but this also applies to the rest of her family.
Here are some examples of why she truly is a Southern Lady:
• She always made sure that guests in her home were served the finest of meals – and she was an excellent cook!
• Their home had a room set aside as a guest room. This was not just a corner cleared of items in storage, but a genuine guest room. The furniture was of the kind of quality that guests knew they were being treated to the best they had to offer.
• Her family was generous. When they went to visit others, they would bring a gift of some sort. Many years ago, they came to visit our family around Thanksgiving. They brought with them a delicious ham. They sent my brother a miniature cotton bale made from a cotton crop they had grown, and we regularly receive a large package of pecans that came from their pecan grove or peanuts from their fields.
• She is a devout Christian Lady. When we went to visit, and were there on a Sunday, we always went to church with her where we were welcomed as family.
• On top of all that, there was that special quality in her that made you feel warm and welcome and loved. It is something that can’t really be put into words – you just know it when you experience it.
Aunt Elizabeth will always have a special place in my heart, and will always be the one who comes to mind when I think of Southern Hospitality.