Today would have been our precious grandmother’s 99th birthday. She was the kind of flawless I wish I could be. A true Southern belle to her core. The world needs more people like Lala, so I’m going to share her top tips for being a Southern lady.
Tip 1: Southern ladies always look their best.
For Lala, Clinique lipstick and a standing weekly Thursday hair appointment were key in upholding this rule. How many people do you know who received personal Christmas cards every year from their Clinique consultant? Lala did. And Heaven forbid that you ever enter the doors of the church without wearing a slip. You’d be called out and told you needed one. MANY mornings I’ll be getting ready for work and will hold my dress up to the light in my closet and think “Lala would say I need a slip.” Southern ladies don’t go out in public without one.
And in making sure that she always looked her best, Lala was physically active for as long as she could. She even went so far in her late 70s to order an ab machine off an infomercial and would watch tv and work on her six pack every night.
Tip 2: Southern ladies always have gifts.
Whether it’s for a friend, a hostess, a bridal shower, or simply a casserole for a neighbor, ladies below the Mason Dixon line give gifts like it’s a job. One day while I was home visiting from college, I was at Lala’s house. She told me she had something for me and she had been waiting on me to come home so she could give it to me in person. I was convinced she was going to give me her diamond ring that looks like her husband met with Neil Lane whilst sitting on a mountain top with the smell of roses and Chris Harrison lingering. Why wouldn’t she give it to me? I was sitting in her den thinking about how I was going to tuck that ring away until I got engaged, and then Lala came back in the room not carrying a ring box. Instead she had a pig pillow pet that she had ordered for me. #disappointed. I didn’t say they always gave great gifts but southern women give gifts nonetheless.
Tip 3: Southern women have a loyalty to country.
As the wife of a veteran, Lala carried this rule near and dear to her heart. We love fireworks in our family and shoot them off every Fourth of July and even one special Thanksgiving we celebrated the Pilgrims with fireworks. If you know me well, then you know how much I love all things America, so during these fireworks displays I would obnoxiously sing patriotic songs such as America the Beautiful, God Bless America, and my personal favorite Battle Hymn of the Republic. The only person who would accompany my singing was always Lala. We’d make a joyful noise of loyalty to our country. And she’d always say at the end “gee I love patriotic music.” Lala’s deep seeded faithfulness to patriotism even went so far one Christmas that she showed up to our celebration wearing a flag sweater. Star of Bethlehem? Stars on the flag? Does it really matter? Not to a southern lady. Patriotism knows no calendar.
Tip 4: Southern ladies write handwritten notes.
Lala would never let a holiday or your birthday go by without mailing you a card. During my freshman year of college, she was especially diligent about making sure I had mail to regularly open. My personal favorite was the card below. “Missing You Sucks”-a sentiment I had never heard my grandmother express prior to this card and a sentiment I never heard her express post this card. I’m pretty certain she didn’t know what that meant, but it gave my friends and me the best laugh knowing that Lala bought this and signed her name to it.
Tip 5: Southern ladies have a strong faith in God.
I could never sit with my parents during church because they were involved in the music, so I sat with Lala every Sunday. We’d share a hymn book and some tic tacs and listen to the message. One year, we were attending the Christmas Eve service and the pastor invited everyone to come up with their families and take communion. Yes. I thought. I finally get communion. It’s Christmas and we just get to walk up there and take it. No ushers needed. I stood up behind my sisters and Lala ready to walk up. I had made it into the aisle when Lala turned to me and said “you are not a member of this church yet, so you need to sit back down.” With my tail tucked between my legs, I made my way back to my seat sans Saltine and grape juice. As embarrassing as that was, she was right. I didn’t understand the significance of it all, and it was important that I not partake until I did. Southern women love Jesus and others unashamedly.
Thanks for teaching us how to be the best versions of ourselves, Lala. You’re simply the best!