Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Southern Hospitality

After visiting Georgia this weekend, I am more convinced that I do not belong where I was born and brought up. I never really did; there are many exceptions of course, but in general I find people to be very isolated from one another where I live. When visiting my sister’s new in-laws and their friends, I was amazed at how readily and eagerly they accepted me and the rest of my family into their conversations. They see me, my parents, my brother, and my cousins as new additions to their family instead of just my sister, which is a welcome surprise to me. Is it a Southern thing? Is it because of their faith? Or are they just uniquely warm and inviting people? Whatever it is, I am not complaining.

The moment I landed in Atlanta, I was welcomed with such cordiality that I have rarely experienced before. I have not spent significant time in the Southern United States in the past, but my brief memories do include warm and friendly strangers that would offer help readily without hesitation. My family and I were charmed by the friendliest man we met during our short sojourn to Georgia working in the parking lot of the rental car company we acquired a car from. As we were pulling out, we stopped to ask him general questions about the trip from Atlanta to Athens, and with the warmest smile from ear to ear, he told us exactly where we needed to go, and he was right! No money exchanged hands, because he did not want it; he was just so happy to help us. As a Northerner, I was and still am blown away by the genuine care we received.

I told my sister that I hoped she appreciated how genuine and loving her new in-laws are to her, because most people are not as fortunate as she is to be welcomed into such an open-hearted group of people. She already knew it of course, but it was good for her to agree with me.

Are your experiences in the South similar?

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