continued from page soon,” the ….
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soon,” the guests say as the driver puts the car in reverse.
“Y’all come back now,” one of the hosts adds, removing his head from the window of the automobile.
Finally, the car backs away as the gracious hosts stand in the driveway, wave and see them off. A proper Southern goodbye can take 30 minutes — sometimes longer.
These sweet goodbyes were commonplace throughout my childhood.
I remember visiting Uncle Lewis and Aunt Sybol Olliff on their farm outside of Metter. They always walked us out to the car as my family turned to leave. They showered my siblings and me with love — and money — as we climbed into the backseat of our Buick.
Uncle Lewis’ overalls held a treasure trove of coins. He plucked quarters from his pockets and dropped the shiny, silver pieces into our hands — clink, clink, clink. Aunt Sybol stood beside him wearing an apron and tugging at loose strands of her otherwise perfect hair telling us how much she loved us and encouraging us to come back soon. My siblings and I left their house feeling rich, and most of all, loved.
I get it. We Southerners love company. We love having friends and family over, sharing stories, eating, drinking, laughing, crying, etc. And we hate to see our guests leave. The long goodbye simply represents the fact that we Southerners don’t really want to say goodbye, so we draw it out as long as we can.
But this time-consuming ritual is endangered in today’s fast-paced world where no one has the time of day for anyone else. I sure hope the long, lingering goodbyes survive the test of time.
It’s just one of the many things we do south of the Mason Dixon Line that oozes charm, creates feelings of comfort and connection and makes our guests feel valued and loved. It’s an integral part of our legendary Southern hospitality.
I love long Southern goodbyes. They are part of my Georgia girl heritage. Moreover, my husband has learned to love them, too. Slowly, I’m assimilating him into a fine Southern gentleman. Y’all come back now. Ya’ hear?