Okay y’all, I’m going to get a little southern here for a minute. I was raised in Central Texas (which totally counts as the South), and growing up I used to hear my grandmother bless people all the time.
“Bless your heart.”
“Well, bless your soul.”
And she always meant it with all of her heart.
This is why I was surprised to learn as an adult that there is a “southern” thing wherein people apparently bless other people but really mean, “What a dumbass.” Or “I hate you.”
Guys, please. This isn’t a Southern Thing. This is a mean thing. I’m sure there are some passive aggressive people from the south out there, but I’d hate for anyone to walk away with the impression that Southern women are, as a whole, mean people who just fake being friendly until they can turn around and talk about you behind your back. Meanness is something that happens everywhere. It’s not a “Southern Thing.” I think those folks that bless people’s hearts in a sarcastic way would find ways to be nasty no matter where they are from.
I grew up surrounded by Southerners. East Texas Southerners. My maternal aunts could put more syllables into a word than you would believe. My mother can, too, but she’s pretty good at keeping a lid on it. What she’s not good at keeping a lid on is being friendly to folks. Everywhere. No matter who they are. This Christmas, we were standing in line to get tacos in a gas station (because this is Texas and that’s where you get good tacos), and my mom turned around and struck up a conversation with a couple of construction workers behind us. She chatted with them about their day and the delicious tacos we were all about to eat, and then she stuck out her hand and introduced herself to them, shook hands and learned their names. I guarantee you that if she sees them again she will remember them by name and ask after their children. Probably by name. Because she is kind and genuine and really cares about those two guys and how they are doing.
Now that’s a Southern thing.
But it’s not only a Southern thing. Just like mean folks live everywhere, so do kind people.
So if you ever hear me say, “Oh, bless your heart.” It doesn’t mean I hate you or think you’re stupid. It means I love you and I wish you happiness.
This year is just getting started. Let’s all work together to spread a little kindness.