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What Makes a Southerner?

Updated on October 20, 2010

Although I spent the majority of my growing up years in Georgia, I have also spent time living in other southern states. I have lived in Alabama, Florida, spent summers in Tennessee and currently live in the beautiful state of North Carolina. Along the way, I married a Yankee. Go figure! As a result of my marriage (of which there are no complaints!), my many trips north of the Mason Dixon have taught me one thing in particular: Southern is a state of mind, not necessarily birth.

Yes, being born in South means one is a Southerner, but that doesn’t mean that only Southerners can appreciate our way of life. For instance, my hubby loves deep fried foods-especially chicken and okra- biscuits, corn bread. Ironically, I could never have these Southern faves and not miss them at all. In addition, he prefers the country life away from the crowds and activity of the city, regardless of whether it is up North or down South. However, having grown up in the country, I love the excitement of the city.

As a Southerner, I have had to deal with very little snow…until moving to North Carolina, that is. He loves it and can’t wait to get out in it; I tolerate it and appreciate its beauty from the warmth of our home.

That said there is much we agree on when it comes to living in the South. We both love the convenience of being able to go to the ocean, without a long day’s drive and do so whenever possible. We love that Southerners sprinkle their conversations with phrases like, “Dear”,” Honey”, “Bless your heart” and of course, the ever popular “Ya’ll”. In the South, when someone says, “Drop in again sometime for a visit” they really mean it, it’s not just a polite way of saying goodbye. When I go up North, I get teased for my Southern mannerisms and using the word “ya’ll”. Of course, my hubby has only a faint Southern accent.

Of course, in the South, it seems that everyone is related to each other—even if they really aren’t. We are often chuckling at how people say their related to “so and so” because their mother’s uncle’s was married to so and so’s cousin which means they are related. And, while the family tree doesn’t always make sense-at least to us- the cool thing is, that if there is a crisis anywhere along the branches of the family, everyone jumps in to help with meals, childcare or any other needs or concerns. So, yeah, that makes them “family”.

Our kids? One sounds Southern and loves to be out in the country and the other is the total opposite, yet they both have only known life in the South. In addition, they both care very little for Southern style foods, though they have been exposed to it all their lives.

So what makes one a Southerner? I’m not so sure. Is it birth, personal preference, location or something else?


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