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Southern Girl Academy: High Holidays

Southerners do many things well. Celebrating tops the list. And nothing gets us more excited than the high holidays, those special dates starred, highlighted and underlined in our agenda books.

But my calendar looks different from that of the girl sitting next to me. And hers has dates that don’t match those on her sister-in-law’s day planner. What unites us? That good old-fashioned camaraderie you’ll only find where the tea is sweet.

It doesn’t matter to us if you celebrate Easter in fabulous white peep-toes or Hanukkah in gorgeous dark leather boots; we’re here to lift you up and mark this day because it’s important to you. And if it’s important to someone we love, it’s sure as hell important to us.

That’s the thing about Southerners: Few experiences please us like being able to make others feel happy, welcome and looked-after. And what better way to do that than to host a throw-down to celebrate that very important date?

Maybe your high holiday is the arrival of your only child. On his first birthday, we’ll show up with an adorable smash cake, a stash of monogrammed bibs and a six-pack to enjoy when you’re cleaning up the mess.

Wait! Did you just say you’re about to be the first person in your family to earn a graduate degree?! How exciting! Give us 20 minutes and we’ll have a room reserved at your favorite restaurant so there’s a delicious dinner after the final melody of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

There are, of course, days that become important to us in ways we never expected. And those are often because of the warmth and graciousness of our Southern sisters.

When my grandfather died in 2004, I could never imagine looking back on the experience – which included multiple flights and four hours of driving to get to tiny Sale City, Ga. (pop. 253) – as a pleasant memory, let alone as one of my own personal high holidays.

But a brigade unlike any seen in that state since Sherman’s march showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep, carrying everything we needed: bottled Cokes, Ziplocks stuffed with steamy boiled peanuts and milk vases brimming with fresh-cut azaleas.

The morning of the funeral, my mother and I were alone in my grandparents’ house, and at 7:30 a.m. discovered a full, creamy banana pudding with perfect meringue peaks. It was left in their refrigerator as a surprise by a chain-smoking culinary genius with a blue-tinted coiffure who was just as adept at refilling your plate as at delivering a well-timed, “Bless your heart!”

Mama and I sat at the table where we’d both learned to eat solid foods and devoured the entire 9×13 pan in about 15 minutes. It is, to this day, one of my all-time favorite memories

In the midst of stress, we laughed a lot that morning, and we still laugh about our pre-funeral indulgence often. That makes March 6 one of my own high holidays, seven years later.

So if there’s something important happening in your life, sidle up to us and please do tell! Southerners know how to throw a heckuva party, and we know how to console you, too. We’ve got all the trappings to help you make your own high holiday.

But before you go on, just give me a moment to mark this on my calendar …

Hilary DeMillo is a Georgia peach through and through. But she still loves living in central Arkansas with her Atlanta-native husband and their mutt Sanford, named for that sacred ground where the Bulldogs play six or seven Saturdays every fall. She also shops a little too much.


12 Responses

  1. I love my High Holidays! I also take it a step further by using different markers depending on how special it is!

  2. Love this post because it rings so true!

  3. Oh, Hil, I adore this post!!

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