A good many of our other gatekeepers are adopted southerner’s from Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois so their idea of a southern Christmas might be different than yours and mine. I’m from a small town in middle Georgia where getting a Starbucks was front page news. So let me tell you what I think a southern Christmas should be. A southern Christmas starts with a real Fraser Fir that was painstakingly selected to be the perfect shape and height. Trees should not have color schemes or themes. The ornaments on a tree should tell the story of the family whose gifts will go under it. Baby’s first Christmas, that one you made in preschool, an ornament from a favorite vacation. And of course the best ornaments, the ones so fragile and old that super glue, ingenuity and subtle surgery must be performed before it can take its rightful place on the tree. The presents under that tree should be bought with no particular budget in mind, just what would make that recipient smile. Presents are as beautiful as the items inside them. Big curly bows, unique and festive wrapping paper all specifically selected to suit the recipient of the gift.
Now for the thing that no one else will say- a true southern Christmas is most definitely about stress. If you’re not stressed, you’re not doing it right. A true southerner wants to be everywhere for everyone so parties and get-togethers are plentiful. A schedule filled to the brim is part of a southern holiday season.
Stress, Ornaments, Trees and Presents what did I miss? The true star of any southern holiday is, of course, the food. Being a southerner means you have a certain kind of stubbornness that’s hard to find elsewhere, a resistance to change. Sometimes that’s bad, but in the case of food it means recipes handed down for generations. A southerner takes the phrase “ like mama used to make” and multiplies it by a least three. This results in tried and true dishes that are heavy handed on the sugar, butter and the love. Leftovers are inevitable, but if you don’t fall shove in two extra pieces of pie and 1 plate more at any one those parties you attend then you’re not getting the full experience.
Finally, a southern Christmas is about family. In particular the ones you lost. We remember Christmases from long, long, ago and talk reverently about how much the ones passed on would be proud and how they’re missed. We tell the little ones what grandma used to do and how that cake is just like the one that Nana made. And these tiny strings of memories tie us all together. And over the years we weave all those memories together, of the tree, the ornaments, the presents and the food to make a perfect southern Christmas that we repeat again and again and again.