Monday, December 21, 2009

Flamingo Ladies Book Club...Being Dead is No Excuse!

Last night I hosted the monthly "Flamingo Ladies Book Club" at my house. Being the hostess, I was given the opportunity to choose the book. Hmmmmmm, what to choose? Well, one of my favorite books is "Being Dead is No Excuse," by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays.

We Southerners take funerals and graveyards seriously. This is the official Southern ladies guide to throwing the perfect funeral--it's just hilarious y'all! But first, "Here's What I Wore." These cute little slacks were given to me by my friend Joy...they are lime green with pink flamingos--just too cute for my "Flamingo Book Club." The white cotton turtleneck is by Ralph Lauren and the pink cable knit sweater is also by Ralph Lauren.
I just love the pattern...this is the Sandra Lee in me!
I wore my pink Lilly mules {after I realized I still had on my night slippers when the first guest had arrived}, my Ralph Lauren pearl stud earrings, my Cartier roll ring wedding band, a pink grosgrain ribbon adorned my usual ponytail, and Lilly *Wink* was my fragrance of choice!

Nobody in the world eats better than a bereaved Southerner. Many Delta cooks keep their pantry stocked with staples to prepare funeral-appropriate dishes, when needed. This book reminds us of all the appropriate dishes for a funeral reception, some of which I prepared for the book club ladies. It also lets us know which foods would be totally inappropriate and tacky to take to the bereaved; foods such as: A leafy green salad--no comfort in this dish! A cobb salad--way too high falutin! Ribs--Good Lord, don't even think about taking this dish to a bereaved tacky!

Need to know which hymns are appropriate funeral hymns?--{Oh God our Help in Ages Past} and which are inappropriate (Battle Hymn of the Republic}.

Not sure about "the right funeral flower to send?" Choose Casablanca lillies or delicate pink roses over carnations or gladiolus!

All Southern ladies have a summer and winter funeral frock hanging in the closet at all times. I can tell you that my mama, Miss Pauline, has always carried a funeral frock with her when she travels out of town...always!

When I lived in California, I was a member of a book club there and we always served food mentioned in the book we read. So, I prepared food that is mentioned in the book--perfectly proper food for a Southern funeral reception!

{Y'all simply have to excuse the rumpled tablecloth and that ghastly cord in the right-hand corner! Y'all just have to!}
All the appropriate funeral reception foods are here...the centerpiece--pale pink roses, oh-so proper!


Cheese Straws,
the cocktail snack of the South...

Salted Pecans, a favorite at all Southern receptions...

Artichoke Spread, another popular cocktail accompaniment in the South.

Pimiento Cheese is known as the "Southern Pate." It's a funeral staple...the paste that holds the South together!

Stuffed Eggs are associated so closely with death that anytime you see the lady of the house getting down the egg plate, you might well ask, 'Who died?'

There's always a Ham Platter at a Southern funeral reception.

Southern Fried Chicken "is traditionally served when the preacher comes to Sunday lunch," however, it's very at-home at funeral receptions.

"Grits is a comfort food that has helped to heal many a Southern soul."

"Nothing whispers sympathy quite like a Frozen Pea Casserole with canned bean sprouts and mushroom soup."

Liketa Died Potatoes are the last thing a snoot would take to somebody's house, but the first thing to be eaten!"

Cheese Biscuits...comfort food at its' best!

Coconut Cake...just sooooo Southern y'all! Italic Another pink Christmas tree y'all. This one is decorated with little pink flamingos--party favors for my guests!
Each guest took home a flamingo ornament...attached to their "leftover" container!

Funeral Etiquette
Remember that death, like all other life-cycle events, has etiquette rules that should be observed. These etiquette rules simply must be followed...'cuz y'all know--people will talk!
~When learning of someone's death, you should contact the family immediately to offer your condolences.
~In the South, as soon as the word is out that someone has passed away, casseroles and other appropriate funeral foods are dispensed to the grieving family--that's just what we do.
~Obituaries in the South are a little different from those you might read in other parts of the Country--people "pass away", "enter into eternal rest,"are called to eternal glory," or they "slip away suddenly." Some Southerners feel the word "death" is just too tacky.
~Southern ladies have been known to be buried in an evening gown, prom dress, or a lace peignoir.
~Dark conservative clothing should be worn to the funeral home and to the funeral service.
~Pull your vehicle over to the side of the road when a funeral procession is passing by--this shows respect for the deceased person and for those who are grieving.

The Sympathy Note and the Thank-You Note:
Even if you send flowers and attend the funeral, you should still send a sympathy note. A proper sympathy note soothes. Notes are almost as important as food and Southern mothers work hard to ensure that their children grow up able to write a good one! They know they will be judged on this. It is fine to say how difficult it is to find the words to express your feelings. If you are sincere, offer your help in a sympathy note. Avoid phrases such as "Please let me know if there is anything I can do," instead, offer to supply a meal or run an errand for the family. Phrases such as "Please know that we are thinking about you and you have our deepest sympathies" are appropriate in a condolence note.

Thank-you notes are sent out as soon as possible to those who sent flowers, sent food, made donations, or participated in the funeral. Of course, it is acceptable to send a thank-you note to anyone who made a special trip to attend the funeral or sent a sympathy card. It is never considered wrong to send a thank-you note!

So, if you want to know what happens the minute a Southerner passes away, read this book! Thank you for stopping by today...I'll be back on Wednesday with photos of one last Christmas tablescape and Christmas tree.


Leiah said...

I love that here in the South we might live one town over but we will forever be known as a native of the town where we were born.

A friend of mine told me just the other day that she keeps a 'funeral box' in her hall closet just in case. And you'll never believe what she keeps in there -- toilet paper and paper towels! She said that is the last thing a person needs to or will think about when someone has passed but it will be the first thing someone needs. I just giggled and giggled but inside realized she was oh so right. Leave it to us GRITS -- Girls Raised In The South!

Teresa Jane said...

Girlfriend Miss Janice, awesome post for anyone, southerner or not. If people don't observe these rules "it ain't rite, it jest ain't rite". Teresa Jane

Mona said...

Loved this book! Mustn't forget the aspic and chicken salad. ;)
The perfect outfit, and adorable flamingo ornaments for your book club Miss Janice.
Thank you for sharing.

Tammy B said...

I have that book, but have not completed reading it. As soon as my mother hears that someone has passed away, she gets in the kitchen and whips up chocolate pound cake and a green bean casserole. When my father passed away, there was food waiting on us when we got back from the funeral home to make the arrangements. People in the South work fast. I have to tell a funny one. When my grandmother passed away, one of her cousins brought a raw chicken, cooking oil, flour. She got mad because no one fried the chicken. Like anybody had time.

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

It is a fabulous book, isn't it? I loved it.

Suburban Princess said...

I have never put that much thought into a funeral! But then I have only ever been close to 2 people who have died.

In the book club I used to belong to a few of us used to serve food mentioned in the books - I wish I could join your book club! It looks like y'all (you are rubbing off on me!) know how to host a meeting!

Jessica Ryan said...

I want to read the book. I also want to be in your book club, especially when you host! By the way, I never noticed the cord... until you mentioned it!

Susan (Between Naps On The said...

Hi Janice...I've almost purchased that book a few times...I thought it would be a riot to read. Sounds like it may actually have a lot of pratical advice in there, too. So we now know where you learned all your wonderful ways...your sweet Mother, Miss Pauline. :-) Sound like you were "raised right." I'm going to go catch up on some of your past posts. I am finallllly off work for a few days and this is such a luxury to have time to actually visit some fabulous blogs, like yours! :-)
Merry Christmas!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

I'm going to have to read that book -- you're one of several people who've recommended it -- Now you were dressed perfectly for a Flamings Book Club (leave it to you!) -- and now Miss Janice don't you worry your pretty head a minute about your cloth and your cord -- you know we'd excuse you of anything!

Trish {Pink Preppy Lilly Lover} said...

Miss Janice - you always nail it! This post hit every etiquette standard at its best. Merry Chistmas to you! XOXOX

Kathie Truitt said...

And of course, only a Southerner would find something humorous in 'death'. I am one generation removed from this, but my family use to have one person 'sit' with the deceased until burial.

And of course, I have my funeral all planned out. I am to be 'laid out' in my formal living room (either at my home or my parents). No tacky funeral home visitation for me. Of course, they can have my funeral at the funeral home if they choose. I am to be buried in my finest, prettiest pink outfit, with hair done and full face makeup and my perfect, manicured hands folded gently at my waist, with all my jewelry on. Once 'the guests' have file out they can pry my jewelry off and dispense it among the family, but my guests are NOT to see me without jewelry. Then after the funeral, I want to be buried on my family property where I use to ride my horses. See? Nothing fussy, just a simple ceremony. Ha!

Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

So beautiful! Love it, I am going to be getting this book to read over the holidays. After all, I think my Mother in Law will love it... considering that every single conversation we have over the phone includes the phrase "so, who's in the funeral home this week," and then we discuss what is being baked for the wake. I think we can both appreciate it. GRITS always know how to "throw" a "wake" in celebratin of a person's life (that's how we view it anyways, not that there's not grief - well, as a GRIT, you know what I mean!) xoxo Merry Christmas Miss Janice!

Elisabeth said...

oh, i loved that book. it is so true!! i do have a question for you (and anyone else who happens to read this): do y'all do wreaths when someone dies? here in SC, we always know if there's been a death at a home because there will be a wreath hanging on the porch. pink for ladies, white for men. just another little tradition, i suppose. =)

M. L. said...

Miss Janice, only you could make a wake so lovely!!!

By the way I am from Ohio (raised by two transplanted Southerners) and I can tell you that many people just dont get it up here.

I have even been to memorial services where there is no food afterwards? What is the world coming to?

Unknown said...

I love this book! It so reminds me of my grandmother. She always took a pound cake and a plate of fried chicken to anyone's house who had had a death in the family. Another friend of mine and I always laugh that you get to have all the congealed salads you could ever imagine.
I always take paper goods and breakfast food. (and paper goods includes toliet paper and kleenex)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

That is one of my favorite books of all time. It is a true delight, and it's also a great etiquette book. Plus, they include those great recipes.

Speaking of which, I love your buffet with all the scumptious food. What a treat for you book club. I wish I were a member. Oh, and I don't see a cord. Do you see a cord? ;-)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. I hope you are blessed beyond measure and that all of the special things you do for others are poured back on you!


Sheila :-)

Unknown said...

My mother & my aunt both keep cake layers & casseroles in the freezer for such occasions. And it drives me crazy for someone not to pull over for a procession.

PoshMomma said...

That coconut cake looks simply to die for. *rolls eyes at own bad joke*