The national media portrays the South, impossibly, as the Mecca of both religion and a good party. For once, the national media is right. But there's more to it than what we see on TV: the Bush twins stumbling out of Austin bars, the Ten Commandments hauled into a state capitol on a front-end loader. What the media should focus on more is that one special time of year when the divine and debutantes all take center stage in a perfect storm of hot glue and cheese grits: Christmas.
There are certain social needs that can only be met a this special time . . .
Advertising the family name. This is the only time of year when five bucks and a poinsettia can get the family name in the church bulletin. Atlanta ad agencies have rarely landed such a captive audience.
Promoting the family image. From January to Thanksgiving, only real estate agents, attorneys, and hookers can freely distribute photos of themselves. Christmas, however, is open season for the mass mailing of family photos.
Showing off the house. One of the more bizarre things about life in the South is how a dinner inevitably leads to a tour of the house. This is equally true of antebellum and double-wide homes, each of which have notable features to be highlighted. This is the time of year to show it all off, whether of the garden-district or garden-tub variety.
Exercising the silver. While Northerners sing about silver bells, Southerners are rigging their kitchen sinks with baking soda and aluminum foil in experimental attempts to clean the sheer volume of silver necessities. The resulting acrid smell has been compared to that of a home perm, and is often masked with the use of potpourri Crockpots. The fact that all of this happens only once a year is why a little advance planning takes place. Fortunes of cotton and tobacco weren't built overnight, and a noteworthy Christmas isn't planned over Thanksgiving turkey.