When people hear the word “Southerner” the first thing that comes to mind is hospitality, but to a true Southerner it is much more. It is our roots, family and tradition, but of all else it is our manners.
Have you ever been in a store looking at an item on a shelf and someone walks right in front of you, saying nothing? That’s when you know they’re not from the South. Anytime we do this we always say “excuse me” without hesitation.
Nowhere else do you hear children say “yes ma’am” or “no sir”. It is sad to say that the present generation, some at least, aren’t teaching their children to say this. This is a sad thing because showing this respect to our elders is distinctly Southern.
As a child I was never allowed to ask the question why? Or what? Southern children always referred to an adult as Ms. And Mr. before the first name.
People from the South seem to go out of their way to be helpful, complimentary and are an incredibly gracious people. If someone asked a Southerner to describe in a few words what we are, it would be humble, courteous, behaving ourselves, try never to hurt anyone’s feelings, and especially friendly. If you put a Southerner, especially a woman, in a line she/he will make a friend. We love to talk to everybody.
Southern hospitality is rooted in traditions that have been passed down over hundreds of years. Today more people from other parts of the country are moving to the South especially from up North. This threatens our culture and makes Southern hospitality more difficult to consistently maintain. The New York Times published an article which said that southern manners are declining. Our manners are one of the many things that are central to our identity. Many Southerners blame the erosion of civility and politeness on the influx of people moving here from other places.
This is the time that we have to cling to all we hold dear, to teach our future generations just how important it is to be kind, courteous and friendly while standing firm on our identity as Southerners.
All I can say is there is sweetness in the air, a Southern sweetness.
Lisa Sherwood Faipea
Port St. Joe