Have you ever noticed how Southern mamas mellow as the years go by? Sure, they’ll still break out the family silver when they’re 80—but only if they want to, not because they’re expected to. Mama still dabs on a little lipstick before she goes to the grocery store but only because she “likes a little color” on her face, not because she’s afraid she might run into the preacher’s wife. Over time, I guess, all those “musts” and “shoulds” that promise to protect us from the dreaded “tacky” finally catch up with us. And we throw an inner hissy fit of rebellion.
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I can tell it has happened to Mama. For starters, even though her house is a study in Christmas cheer, she just put up the first non-green tree (it’s flocked white) to grace her living room since 1972. Back then, her mother-in-law persuaded her to try one of those silver aluminum trees with the turning light wheel that sat on the floor. After a year or two of that nonsense, Mama sent Daddy back to the woods, with a saw in hand, to fetch her a real tree.
Even more pronounced than her streamlined Christmas decor is the philosophical shift in her New Year’s resolutions. Back in the day, she made tons of goals for the New Year—all aimed at home/self-improvement. They involved painting the house and getting new drapes for the living room; learning to embroider, cross-stitch, and knit; being a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, neighbor, aunt (she’s the only one who thought she needed improvement in any of those). Now? Mama’s tired. She resolves to prop her feet up, have a cup of coffee, and listen to her Elvis Christmas CD. Here’s a look at Mama’s New Year’s resolutions, then and now. Let us know if you’re on Team Mama:
Then: Paint my front porch; lose 10 pounds; can or freeze enough strawberries, apples, peaches, figs, and blackberries to last all year.
Now: Call painter; celebrate the tunic top; run by Publix on the way home from the beauty shop.
Then: Find new ways to serve my church (besides teaching a Sunday School class, singing in the choir, and working with the hostess committee).
Now: Get off of that hostess committee.
Then: Learn to sew beautifully so I can make all of our clothes.
Now: Learn to shop online so I never have to face that mall traffic again.
Then: Learn to embroider, cross-stitch, and knit so I can be more creative with the gifts I make for others.
Now: Look into that “Etsy” thing my women’s group keeps talking about.
Then: Review my garden journal and increase tomato, squash, and peas by three rows each this year; add a Lady Banks to my rose collection; plant azalea hedge under front windows; divide daffodils; line walkway with marigolds; prune gardenias.
Now: Buy 3 garden-themed stress-relieving coloring books. Make that 2. No need to crazy with it.
Then: Celebrate the New Year with a big family gathering.
Now: Send the family a “Happy New Year” group text.
Then: On New Year’s Day, cook black-eyed peas for luck, turnip greens for money, and cornbread just because.
Now: On New Year’s Day, cook black-eyed peas for luck, turnip greens for money, and cornbread just because. Some things you don’t mess with.