Diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. All are beautiful, and all are valuable, but the pearl holds a place of honor in the South. A true Southern girl usually gets a strand for her 16th birthday or for graduation from high school.
Pearls are, of course, always in style, classic and beautiful. They are the right choice for a dinner out, special occasions, and always for church on Sunday mornings. But a Southern girl can also put them on and wear them with panache to a barbeque or a football game. The Queen of England wears them. Pearls are always a good choice and very traditional.
Our world is changing at a rapid pace with technology leading the way. We are in touch with people thousands of miles away instantly through phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook, snapchat, Instagram and a host of other ways. People move on a regular basis to other parts of the world and certainly to other parts of the country. Our cultures, national and regional, are becoming integrated and fused. And because this makes us aware that we are not so different from each other, it is a good thing.
Except for one thing. Because of this melding of cultures, the quintessential Southern woman is a dying breed. With everyone wearing yoga pants and t-shirts, we rarely see the woman who was raised with the ideas that you don’t leave the house without hair and make-up complete and dressed nicely. Even rarer is the person who, when frustrated or even angry, instead of lashing out, reverts to an even stronger degree of politeness, maybe even to the point of handing out an honest-to-goodness “Bless Your Heart.”
Maybe most of all, I miss the accent. There is a softness and tenderness that brings to mind the sound of June bugs on a warm, summer’s evening. A precise diction that is presented in such a slow, mellifluous manner that even a story of shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly is thoroughly captivating.
But there is good news. If you’re careful and pay attention you might be lucky enough to run across such a person. I was! I don’t remember how it began exactly, but I received an invitation for lunch from a very special woman I knew from church. (Church is an ideal place to find a Southern woman.)
As luck would have it, the others who were also fortunate enough to receive an invitation, were women I happened to know very well and liked immensely. This group was hand-selected with an eye toward amazing, fabulous women. I was lucky enough to get included more than likely because it was just good southern manners. The day arrived, and as you can imagine the table was gorgeous; the food was delicious, and the hostess was enchanting and entertaining.
When we are young, people freely take us under their wing, give us advice, and mentor us. As we age, this doesn’t happen as often, but even at this age, we are changing and uncertain too. We are facing empty nests, changes in careers, and are at a point of maybe reevaluating goals and dreams. Having someone who’s a little older and has been there to recognize that and take us in, share her wisdom, and in her words “give us a place to land” was an exceptional act of love.
After that initial lunch, my friends and I were talking about the luncheon and how special we felt. Someone said it was like receiving an invitation to dine with the queen. We joked that we should wear pearls the next time, as you would with the queen. From that moment on it became the standard; a luncheon invitation of this caliber required pearls. And with typical Southern grace, the next invitation that arrived was addressed to the Precious Pearls!