The annual McKinney Family trip down south did not disappoint! As we drive north after an amazing week, I am again reminded of how much I am truly a southern girl. (Ok, all you Midwestern friends, I hear your smirks! I honestly forget that I have an accent!)
I love the beach! In fact, it took every tiny bit of will power I had not to buy this sign I found...
...because it is absolutely true for me!
But if I'm completely honest, it's not just any beach. It's a southern beach that does my heart good!
Only at a southern beach will you see not only palm trees, but also crepe myrtles, pine trees, magnolias, Spanish moss, and mimosa trees. I'm not a gardener, but I swear these trees will be in heaven! I especially have sweet memories of the mimosas in our yard growing up! Momma always said the blooms were a mess and they smelled horrible, but they are reminders of childhood to me. Come to think of it, there might be an obvious spiritual lesson there.
I also love how southern beach families dress! Even though I refuse to wear makeup and much more than my skirted (can you say 40 something year old momma) swim suit, I just can't get enough of little girls with bows bigger than their heads! Again, I can almost hear all my dear Midwestern friends saying, "Seriously? Bigger than those monster bows you ALWAYS put in Sarah 's hair?" Yes, even bigger! Think dinner plate, on a toddler's head. Sarah's are clearly dessert plate.
Southern mommas of little boys will not be out done though. While wearing bedazzled Yellow Box flip-flops to show off their fresh pedicures, they dress their future SEC football stars in seersucker rompers to hit the local beach restaurants! (I will neither confirm nor deny that Blake McKinney allowed Justin and Caleb to wear a few monogrammed seersucker overalls during their younger days! If only I had photos!) Of course the dads are all sporting the golf shirts featuring their beloved SEC team's logo. (Go Hogs!) If you are a true fan, your SUV or minivan has the appropriate window flag.
And speaking of monograms, no one in the south ever loses anything important because we most definitely have a penchant for monograms on just about everything! I literally saw monogrammed shot glasses as well as monogrammed pocket toothpick holders. Actually, monogrammed toothpick holders are pretty smart. It's the south's contribution to the whole green movement. If your toothpick holder is easily identifiable then you can just put it back in your pocket and use it later. Southerners are thoughtful like that. Just trying to reduce waste and all. Wouldn't want landfills full of toothpicks.
A week at the beach means that my mother in law, sister in law, and I had to go to the grocery store a few times. I am a sucker for a great grocery store and Hyvee is actually the best, but the southern grocery stores make me smile so much. Just the names make me smile, and by the way we always put "the" in front of the name of the store: The Piggly Wiggly, The Winn Dixie, and The Publix. You can get really good fried chicken and watermelon at these stores.
Oh my! That reminds me that who needs an actual grocery store down here?! You can get fresh silver queen corn and okra at road side stands anywhere! These stands look like they could blow away in the next wind, but boy are the boiled peanuts good! Hope watermelons, Arkansas tomatoes, and Georgia peaches are so fresh and plentiful that we eat them before we leave the parking lot with juice dripping from our elbows. And come on now! Only in the south would you find the best jumbo shrimp (I'll always love that little oxymoron!) being sold out of the back of an old El Camino! Throw some potatoes and some of that silver queen corn in a big pot with the jumbo shrimp and Old Bay seasoning and it's so good you'll slap your momma. (I don't think that really happens because southern mommas will slap back!)
Undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of beach trips are the accents. You know you're from the south if you couldn't care less about ending sentences with prepositions! My favorite will always be what we hear at our favorite country restaurant in Foley. While wishing several people happy birthday, the adorable hostess invariably says something like, "We want to wish a happy birthday to Lulu! Hey Lulu and family! Where ya'll at?" Every time I hear an accent as colorful as my own I feel at home! Its just who i am! It's where I'm from!
But of course, the biggest reason I love the south is family! This beach trip was, most importantly, a time to make unforgettable cousin memories! Our children have been called, as a part of this ministry team, to live far from cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. We all do this willingly, but we certainly appreciate the times we can reconnect with family. Riding boogie boards, playing paddle ball, crab hunting, and playing board games together are precious times for these McKinney kids!