Arts & Culture

What Mama Gave You

G&G readers share what their Southern moms passed on, for better or worse

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In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers what traits they inherited from their Southern mothers. Read some of the many responses below, from good looks to obstinacy:

My mother and I were delivered by the same doctor on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He made sure that we were both born with a sense of decency. —Adam A. 

Never mow the yard on Sundays. My Lord, what would the neighbors say. —Jamie R.

Eating fried chicken with a knife and fork. Always have, always will! —Susan S. 

Never, ever talk about how old someone is. If someone is ill-mannered enough to ask, don’t tell them. She, my aunts, and grandmother had a set of stock answers—old enough to vote, too old for the Junior League, eligible for Social Security, and (my favorite) old and wise. —Lynn P.

How to curse properly. —Kia H.

Stubbornness. Whenever she said I was being stubborn, I reminded her where those genes came from. —Sue Ellen J. 

My mother is from Delaware, but my grandmother was from Nashville and was Southern through and through. I think I inherited her hot temper (and her signature ability to cure said hot temper with a nap). —Sarah M.

Saying “Lawsy,” keeping some sort of seasonal wreath on the front door, and always having something to sip on. —Savannah-Jane G. 

I always write thank you notes and never ever address an older person by their first name. —Kathleen M. 

I inherited her dark hair, high cheekbones, and her ability to plant and grow a flower garden. Her love of music and dancing is mine, too, and I am grateful for all. —Vicki K. 

Two things that stand out the most are how to cook from scratch without a recipe and how to iron a razor sharp crease in a pair of pants. —Deborah S.

Hard work, thriftiness, and good looks. —Loretta M. 

I inherited my mother’s love for babies, hydrangeas, and a strong man. Not in that order. —Brooke W.

When the subject was one Mother found uncomfortable, she always said, “Let’s just talk about something pleasant!” Now that she’s gone, it’s my favorite. —Susan R.

The appreciation for a pound cake. Especially with a cup of coffee in the morning for breakfast. —Joy L. 

How to catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. And instead of letting someone get a rise out of me, really get under their skin by laying on the kindness. Works every time. —Carla M.

My eighty-six-year-old mom, who grew up in Tulsa, had two sisters. Someone said about them, ‘those Kitchen girls are skittish.’ I inherited this quality from my mom: being jumpy as a cat. —Maria R.

The exclamation “Bless!” Works like a charm for everything. Pop a tire? Bless! Make a delicious dessert? Bless! They did WHAT? Oh, BLESS! —Chelsea B.

You should always be the four C’s: Courteous, Charming, Cordial, Caring. And ALWAYS send a proper handwritten thank you note! —Deedee K. 

Always have the living room ready for company, and especially if the preacher should stop by. And if someone dies, you don’t make excuses, you go (to the funeral/visitation). I’ve never forgotten either. —Lynn L.

I inherited her form of speech: wahta/water, y’all/you all, sweet milk/whole milk, Judas Escariot/any exclamation, and many, many other Blanchisms. Her name was Blanche. Oh, and lest I forget, her handwritten recipes. Her cookin’ lives on in this household. —Van H. 

Can’t have a party without deviled eggs! —Vicki A. 

Nothing, she was a Yankee gal, swept my Dad off his feet in 1945. I followed suit by marrying a Yankee gal in 2001. Some sorta kismet connection there, I guess. —Jack C.

>> Also see: Strong Opinions on How to Name a Dog 

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