Accenting Southern: A Comfortable Heritage
There's a Comfortable Heritage Behind Southern Kindness
While I have never lived anywhere but the South, I don’t particularly think of myself as a Southerner. I actually see myself as a human American woman, blessed to live in this day and time in this nation with so much opportunity and knowledge available to me.
However, I am Southern, “just because,” and I have come to suspect that true Southern is about as good as it gets on the earthly level, for being Southern is to be comfortably kind.
Southern ways, Southern accents, Southern sayins', Southern thinkin’, it’s all about being comfortable. Comfortable with others and comfortable with self. Comfortable enough to honestly share wisdom, comfortable enough to be nice in the face of downright meanness.
Comfortable enough to not feel threatened by differences, comfortable enough to be strong if need be. Comfortable enough not to let what others think worry me as long I as I am doing what is right.
A Comfortable Heritage Means Southerners can be Kind even when Things Get Hot
Most Southern stereotypes follow the pattern of all stereotypes, but folks is folks, all in their own way everywhere. I learned that my newest wonderful daughter-in-law seems to truly enjoy hearing Southern adages when she mentioned feeling badly that a friend who had done her best had received some unfair criticism.
I told my new daughter that her friend could simply, yet with the utmost kindness, tell those who were critical that they could get happy in the same drawers they got sad in. To my surprise she was amazed at that old saying’s simple truth and I’m glad she has not forgotten it.
It isn’t just the black words on this white paper that are important. Indeed, it is most often the kindness with which such appropriate words are said that makes them suitably funny as well as apropos. The truth of “you may be sorry that you went, sorry that you stayed, sorry that you spoke, but you’ll never be sorry you were kind” is what lets us put our heads down on our pillows in peace at night even when we commit a royal faux pas.
Nosey questions leave some people in a quandary, but a true southerner knows that an innocently honest and very exceptionally kind “What possible use could that information be to you?” will stop them in their tracks every time.
With comfortable sayings and practiced kindness we don’t have to waste time developing multi-level communication skills, or use technology to set up boundaries that shut people out.
We are good to go for communicating on non-nosey levels, and mercy, who knows what we might learn if we take the time to have a conversation with those who do ask nosey questions!
While kindness is the standard that lets accomplished southerners move through life with a comfortable grace and strength that either amazes the rest of the world or goes right over their pea-pickin’ heads, there are times when righteous indignation is called for and this, too, is a Southerner’s forte.
When my good-as-gold friend was mugged I was mad enough to chew up nails and spit out barbed wire. When someone tried to rob my son’s truck right in our own backyard I chased them off in a way that scared them silly because you can mess with a lot of things but you just can’t mess with one of Mama’s babies--or his stuff.
The protection of the innocent is always a primary concern, yet, if I am personally offended, I’ll try to let it roll off me like water off a duck’s back. A kind reply, even if there's an underlying message for the offender, is comfortable. Life’s too short to waste time worrying about the addlebrained.
A Comfortable Heritage Allows Southerners to be Kind Come What May
I like my new daughter’s particular ways of speaking. It’s fun to learn her colloquialisms and inflections, and besides that, love makes all her ways endearing to me.
New and different to my ears but reflecting the values that decent, honest people with character hold dear, I embrace her words and ways. Neither of us gives up our own yet we respect and enjoy each other’s while happily picking up some new phrases to incorporate into our own.
When the time comes I’m going to tell her the same thing my husband told me when I was weary with my first pregnancy, “Well, Hon, it’s like a long-tailed cat in a room full a’ rockin’ chairs, it won’t be as long as it has been.
Then we’ll tell her about names in the South. “Jasmine Leigh” might have close relatives with excruciatingly similar names, which is not toooooo complicated once you understand that full names are often used.
“Jasmine Leigh Georgiana Morgan give your cousin Jasmine Lee Savannah Morgan her parasol right back to her! You know her skin’s as delicate as Aunt Jasmine Lea Dixie Morgan’s is. What HAS come over you child?!”
While true southern children know what inflections go with their names, and so, do not get confused by all the name calling, “child” is always a kind compliment since most of these Jasmines could be 30 something.
Sweeping it all Under the Rug...
Well, all that is to say, if you’re waiting on real southerners to start worrying about whether we sound backwards to your ears or sophisticated enough to suit you, yer backin’ up, bless yore heart. You might consider taking some advice from the politically correct nouveau riche and extend some good, old-fashioned tolerance.
Whether you do or don't is no matter, though. You have a better chance at making it snow in July here in the South than you have at provoking me to respond in an unkind manner. After all, you wear drawers, too, and you can get happy in the same ones you got sad in. The simple fact is that everyone puts their britches on feet first. Being comfortably Southern is not to worry about it.
A Southern Accent to make You Smile :)
Did you learn anything new about Southerners from this hub?
Fun with Learning Southern Speak
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website inform the citizens of South Carolina about natural resource issues and how they may participate in their protection and use