When I went to Texas to college, I was pretty off put by the regional stereotype of Southern hospitality. There were times when I would experience this stereotypical hospitality and unless it was through a "logical connection" (say the mother of a fellow student), I would tend to write it off as fake. A person who didn't know you greeting you with big grins, a firm handshake, or a bubbly twangy voice was too much for me. I justified this outward hospitality as a regional stereotype that was as much about putting on a front as a pair of overpriced dress shoes might impress someone in a New York city board room.
I think (hope) overtime, my negativity to hospitality wore off in someways over my years in college and the following years when I still lived in Texas. I came to see that many (most) people were genuine and their friendliness wasn't simply a regional cover-up for the blemished past of Southern culture, or any other sociological or cynical interpretation. In the way values pass from generation to generation I've come to value many parts of that culture.
Tonight I read my kids the cute and fun story Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry. The story is a simple story (spoiler warning...just kidding), about a Little Blue Truck who is friendly to others and big Dump Truck that is too big, fat and busy for others. When the dump truck get's stuck in the mud, not only does the Little Blue Truck help out, but the farm animal friends who he's been friendly with over time.
|The Dramatic Enterance of the Dump Truck in the Children's Story Little Blue Truck|
In a more critical time of my life, I might have criticized a stereotype, suggesting the busy dump truck might have a soul, and his presentation as a focused contributor misrepresents the fast paced culture of other areas of the country. I couldn't say such a thing with a sincere face today.
Instead, while reading it to my children, who do not live in the South, I thought about how I would want my children to embody the hospitality associated with the Southern stereotype. I would love for my own children to have a natural hospitality that not only is natural, but also in genuine. They won't have the twang, but they can have the heart.