Christmas is around the corner and as I run around trying to catch up on the insanity that goes along with my favorite time of year, I noticed there are certain things that happen every year. I’m pretty sure some of these only happen in the South.
- If it doesn’t move paint it gold. Gold may not be the color scheme of choice in the frozen regions of the country, but it is still alive and well here. Everything from pine cones to magnolia blossoms are decked out in gold. Bonus points if enough glitter to choke an elf, is added to it.
- Town Nativity scene. This is more of a small town things, larger cities have outsiders that have moved in and start screaming about separation of church and state. Get over it! I’m sorry that was rude. We like our nativity scenes and display them proudly.
- yard art. Our usual yard art takes on a new “brighter” look for Christmas. We cover everything with sparkling, fairy lights. It’s not done right until you can land a plane in the front yard. If our Scrooge neighbors are lucky, we’ll take them down by July 4th. Christmas caught me off guard this year and I anly have a few hundred lights on the house this year.
- A small bag of reindeer food rests by Santa’s plate of cookies and milk. They get hungry too. Of course, I don’t know where it’s written that reindeer eat glitter. What do I know, I’m just a mom.
- Jesus and Santa share the stage. Even front row Baptists make room for Santa. He doesn’t steal the show, but he’s there bribing the kids with surprises to ensure good behavior at the annual Christmas party.
Food:There are a number of things that will make an appearance at every Christmas party, even if it’s a catered event.
- Pigs in a blanket. It’s not a party without piggies. In case you don’t know, Southerners love pig.
- Cheese straws. OK, this one I don’t understand. I’ve been told it proves I’m not Old Mobile! That’s OK, I don’t want to be old. Cheese straws and basically cheese flavored crackers/cookies. There’s a local store that makes and sells them. It’s a sign of good breeding to have a tray at any get-together. I have an excuse, my mother’s from Texas, we do salsa.
- Divinity. If you haven’t had it, try it. They are small puffs of sugary heaven with small bits of pecans. They are sweet with a touch of vanilla. The pecans, or walnuts for me, cut the sweetness just enough to keep you from going into a sugar coma.
- Fruitcake. Yes, the fruitcake still lurks here. Waiting for some unsuspecting person to whack off a slice and chip a tooth. OK, that was harsh. Not all fruitcake is bad. Just most of the stuff you buy in the grocery store. I make a very good fruitcake. A local shop also makes a very good one. The men in my life demand fruitcake.
- Velveeta Cheese. I’m not sure how Velveeta is made, probably don’t want to know. But Cheese dip, of one variety or another, is mandatory.
- Cheese balls. I have been to parties where there were no less than 5 different cheese balls, all handmade with love. They varied by the cheese used to make them and the food they were rolled in for coating. Some have even ventured into the unheard of goat cheese. Shocking!
- Nuts. What I mean by nuts is pecans. I married into a cheese loving pecan eating family. I’m not a fan of either. I’m pretty sure my mother in law doubts my Southern heritage based on those two things, and my aversion to cheese straws. I can have a sideboard full of macadamia nuts, walnuts, and almonds. I can even have a bowl full of the elusive Brazil nut, but if I don’t have pecans, I have failed as a hostess. It’s all good, she loves me even with my odd ways 🙂 I have a wooden bowl my dad turned, every year I fill it to the top with unshelled nuts, for my sweetie. Every evening he pulls the bowl toward him and munches on them. I think that is his favorite dessert of the season.
- Our small children run around in matching, cutesy outfits with elves and Santas appliqued on the front. Bonus points for ruffles at the ankles and on bottoms.
- The Christmas plaid is pulled out of the closet. It covers everything from pants, skirts, shirts, and the cute sweater the dog is sweating to death in for the Christmas card photo.
- The purse has a nice embroidery of Christmas trees and matches the sweater and black velvet slippers you wear as you run frantically across town to shop for presents.
- You’ve picked out the cutest, black velvet pantsuit to wear to the Christmas Eve party. When the day finally arrives, so does the heat wave. You spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day wearing Bermuda shorts, flip flops and a festive red T shirt. Silently, you pray for a freezing New Years. Maybe you can wear the pantsuit then.
One word of warning. If you do find yourself in the South for Christmas be prepared to be wished a Merry Christmas everywhere you go.
Last but not least, the most outrageous. Your daughter asks Santa for snow for Christmas Eve. It’s the only thing she asks for. You buy a tin of instant snow and plan on covering the front yard in it. Unfortunately, it rains and you end up wrapping the tin up and stick it under the tree. Don’t laugh. That’s a true story!
What unusual traditions does your region have?