Take Me to the Mardi Gras

It’s Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday! The final day of Carnival season excesses before we start the long haul through forty days of penance and denial on our way to Easter Sunday. As many of you know, I’m from Citronelle, Alabama, which is just north of Mobile, where the very first Mardi Gras was celebrated in…

A Southern Solstice Celebration

“Today is the shortest day of the year.” I remember Daddy telling me that when I was about four or five as we were leaving Granny’s house where we had been opening presents and celebrating Christmas with the family. It was probably only about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but it was already getting dark…

Ambrosia: Food of the Gods

Ambrosia — food of the gods. And food of the Southerner, especially around Christmas. It’s so good you’ll think the deities bore it down straight from Mount Olympus on winged feet and silver platters. I remember making the ambrosia every year with Granny, her kitchen table command central. It was a process, and Granny was…

I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!

“Come here and let me hug your neck!” That’s what you’re are apt to hear in the south when you meet someone you haven’t seen in a while. Why the neck, I wonder sometimes. I guess because it’s more intimate than a shoulder hug or a side hug. Friendlier. Warmer. We southerners are social people,…

Open up a can of whoop-ass

It’s Iron Bowl Saturday. For those of you who have been living under a rock (or in the great, frozen north) and don’t know what that means, the Iron Bowl is the die-hard football rivalry game between the University of Alabama and Auburn University, and it will be played today. Since 1893, once a year…

I’m so hungry my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut

The big day is here. A time to gather with family and friends, break bread together, and count our many blessings. And maybe learn a few new sayings. Here’s how my Thanksgiving Day will probably go — idiom by idiom. When I cook, like this year, I have to get up before the chickens, which…

Defiantly straight

16 hours. That’s how long I was in my mother’s home for a Thanksgiving visit before I found myself with not one but two different kinds of product in my hair. My limp, straight, ornery hair has been a source of consternation to my mother my whole life, and one day, by God, she will…

All y’all should read this!

The most notable characteristic of the Southerner can be narrowed down to the use of one little word — y’all, the second person plural form of you. It’s you and all run together. This sleight of tongue makes a little word that defines an entire culture because no matter where in the world you go,…

And we say Ma’am…

“Yes, Ma’am!” I say it to this day as thoughtlessly as I breathe. As a child, whether I was speaking to my grandmothers, to my teachers, or to the housekeeper, I dared not leave the “ma’am” off the end of a “yes,” “no,” or “thank you.” As an adult, I still say it. It’s just…

We say grace…

We say grace. Here in the Bible belt, rarely a meal starts without someone saying grace — a prayer of devotion and gratitude — before the family dives in. We give thanks for the nourishment of our bodies and souls. We give thanks for the blessing of another day. We give thanks for family and friends. Grace…