My family is Southern. That's right, a capital S is required. Not only are we Southern, but our roots are the Southern Genteel. You know, the cotillion-having, who-are-your-people-asking, butter-wouldn't-melt types. If we were white, we'd be rich to boot, but we are Creole and that's a whole other ballgame.
Anyway, my family is Southern. Which means I was raised with certain tenets:
1. Do not wear out your welcome. (Friends, family or stranger alike - you spend a little quality time and always leave long before they start hinting for you to go. Always think about the fact that they may have other things to do.)
2. Manners are your responsibility, not someone else's. (The idea that most people are not raised right is instilled at birth. We, on the other hand, know how to be polite and considerate. Even if it kills you, the person is your enemy or they are rude to you - you will be courteous or else.)
3. Spare the rod, spoil the child. (Originally this was a religious thought, but it's basically part of the Southern charm. If you're raised in fear of your parents and other authority figures, you're less likely to be a problem child later in life. At least that's the way it worked in my house.)
4. Don't show up empty handed. (Wedding, party, house-warming, football game, sick friend, just passin' by - doesn't matter. Have something with you. I'm not entirely sure why, but this is a hard one to shake.)
5. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. (to their face. Because, while Southern people are as nice as can be to you in person, they can outgossip anyone you know. In church. During service. With the pastor's wife. About the pastor.)
Now, these aren't all the Southern tenets that make us who we are - there are too many to list. I'd have to write a book and even then, it would differ from place to place. The gentility of New Orleans differs greatly from the Southern charm of Atlanta or the brisk intelligence of Virginia.
I've just noticed that I spend a lot of time commenting on, reacting to, or feeling guilty about being rude to other people. I have tried to figure out where that sensitivity has come from and realized, it's a Southern thing. We're raised to think of other people first.
Of course this does not explain my road rage, frustration with repeating myself and lack of empathy for stupid people. I think it's part of living up North for the latter half of my life.