Ann Dorer Essay Series: Y’all Come

Illustration by Judy Jamieson

Upon parting from people with whom we’ve had a delightful time, we Southerners often say “Y’all come.” It’s an invitation to get together again that we give rather casually but mean quite sincerely. The love of having folks come over for light talk and serious laughter lies deep in the hearts of those born and raised in the South.

So I was surprised when I heard that someone from up North said, “But you don’t mean it.”

Of course, we do! If friends call today and say they’ll be dropping by soon, my response will be “Come on! We’d love to have you.” In happy anticipation, I will be smiling as I hang up the phone, which is also the exact moment I begin to “dash and stash.”

First on my agenda is to snatch up the multitude of shoes lying about everywhere and stuff them in the nearest closet. The clothes that have been draped here and there—with the thought of getting another wearing out of them before they need washing—get crammed into the laundry hamper without a second thought.

Next, I swoop up all the scattered books, newspapers, and magazines and hide them—where depends on space. The laundry basket is a good place, but it’s often filled with clean clothes that need folding or dirty clothes that need washing. Occasionally it’s brimming with the books, newspapers, and magazines I collected previously when guests were on the way. When the laundry basket is unavailable, it may become necessary to shove the collected reading material under the bed.

(Southern Lady is an exception to such stowing. I always just happen to leave the current issue out where no one can miss it.)

The kitchen table is a magnet for our mail, which has the habit of accumulating for weeks, waiting for me to feel like deciding what to toss and what to handle. Now is not the time for such decisions. I bag up the mail, and (promise you won’t tell!) I put the sack in the dryer.

When the doorbell rings, I rush to the door, and that’s when I do the most Southern thing of all. I open the door calmly, as if I’d simply been lazing around waiting for my friends to arrive. Then I usher them in as if my home always looks this good.

Later, as my guests leave, I say, “Y’all come.” And after such a great visit together, I mean it with all my heart.

I just mean it more when they call first.

Text by Ann Dorer
Illustration by Judy Jamieson

Former editor and consummate Southern lady Ann Dorer shares her reflections on life in our beloved region. For more of her thoughts, see her essay on Becoming a Southern Lady and previous post on her granddaughter Maggie’s pre-k graduation. Browse exclusive place cards that feature Judy Jamieson’s beautiful artwork in our online shop.

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