Friday, September 9, 2011

Southern hospitality makes good neighbors

One of the benefits of living in the South is what’s known around here as Southern hospitality. This is a misunderstood and often elusive term to grasp. Some folks (Yankees mostly) think it means that all Southerners are syrupy sweet and life is all puppy dogs and rainbows. Of course, that’s not true. We Southerners can be as mean as a cottonmouth snake, and we can hold a grudge long enough to be counted by generations instead of years. True Southern hospitality – to me anyway – means that the people you know make an effort to know you back, to care and to help whenever they can.

We have some great friends who’ve shown us true Southern hospitality. We’ve lived next door to them in two different neighborhoods, and I’d say they know just about everything there is to know about me, my wife and my kids. Likewise, I reckon we know about all there is to know about them.

Funny thing, they’re not from the South. They’re from western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. They came down South to work for a car manufacturer who set up shop in Alabama. These folks are sure enough not from around here. They talk funny. They eat gravy from a jar. The stuff that comes from a cow that you put on your cereal – they call it “melk.” Despite all that, I’ve never met a more loving, caring, sincere family than our friends from Pennsylvania.

Sadly, they moved to North Carolina recently. Our loss, North Carolina’s gain. Family vacations and phone calls keep us close. But unexpected pictures and photos and web updates keep us smiling. Last year, they sent us a magnetic Christmas card with several family shots on a wonderfully designed card. It’s still on our fridge, so every time I go for some melk, I am reminded that we Southerners don’t have a corner (well, not the whole corner) on our famous Southern hospitality.

I miss my friends, but thanks to their cute photo cards and updates, I get to keep a piece of them always in front of me.

~ By Ben Fineburg

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