The Solicited Opinions of the Alabama Housewife

The Solicited Opinions of the Alabama Housewife
Words by Mary Alayne B. Long
Illustration by Eliza Bishop

The holiday season during an election year can be tricky. How do I keep the conversation light at family get-togethers?

Whew—this one can be tough. Still, it all comes down to manners and remembering they require us to make others feel more at ease whenever possible. That doesn’t mean when Uncle Bubba or Cousin Antigone start to stomp around yelling about the red vs. the blue you sit quietly by or hide under the table. It simply means you keep a calm head, keep yourself from looking foolish and help move the conversation in another direction. I have family members who are on the completely opposite spectrum when it comes to politics so guess what—we don’t discuss politics. Tada—it’s like magic. We love each other and are mature enough to understand love is the only thing that matters. If you and your family can’t commit to lay down the swords for a few days of togetherness then I’m sad to tell you, y’all have much bigger fish to fry then a Presidential election.

It seems like you and your husband have adjusted beautifully to living in an empty nest. My youngest is about to leave and I already grieve the days when we were a family of five under one roof. I also feel guilty when my husband and I take trips without our children. How do you make it work? 

Honestly, we have been preparing for years. Not because we wanted out children to leave us. Quite the opposite. We simply know that the best way to be good parents to them is to be a good husband and wife to each other. A big way we did that was keeping a regular date night. Sometimes that meant dressing up and having a fancy supper somewhere and sometimes it meant grabbing a six pack of Budweiser and sitting on the tailgate watching the sun set. We were running for years from football games and theatre performances to wrestling matches and show choir competitions so easing into this slower phase of life has been nice. Of course, we miss our children more than the law should allow. Still, we are so happy for the lives they are making for themselves and it gives us great enjoyment watching them grow. And don’t let yourself feel guilty about moving into the next stage of your life and marriage. You wouldn’t want your children to feel guilty about moving forward would you? You shouldn’t either. Relax and enjoy. You’ve earned it. 

How do you feel about invitations to parties and showers or even weddings being sent through social media? What ever happened to a good old fashioned paper invitation? 

An invitation to any event should make the recipient feel included and special. I’m not sure how you do that in a DM. While paper invitations are always the preferred method of communication they aren’t always in the budget and sometimes an internet invitation simply makes more sense. For those occasions you can use a delivery system such as Paperless Post or Green Envelope. They offer lovely choices that anyone would be happy to send or receive. Just remember, if you  do end up taking the online route, you still need to hand write all of your thank you notes. That’s non-negotiable. 

I know better than to wear white shoes after Labor Day. What about white jeans? I see some people wearing them all year now. Is that okay? 

Putting away white after Labor Day is a long held tradition that reaches far beyond The South. It all started back in the early 1900’s when summer was a time to escape from the heat and the sun. Ladies especially kept their skin covered and long white (usually linen) dresses and blouses were used to stay cool. Once fall rolled around, the white summer wardrobes were packed away and thicker wool clothes in darker colors made an appearance. Today, it’s more about the fabric and the climate you find yourself in than the color. If you avoid linens and stick to wool, cashmere and other cold weather fabrics—including denim— you can get by with a little white here and there during the colder months. You still need to keep it off your feet though. Your grandmother and I will thank you.  

This may be too heavy for your column but I’m asking it anyway. The past few months have opened my eyes to the reality of human trafficking. I am having a difficult time processing this and understanding how it exists. How can we reconcile the reality of this atrocity with a belief in God? 

That is a very heavy question—and an important one. I will go ahead and tell you, I don’t have all the answers and I’m not sure who does. I do think though, that the first thing we all need to do is recognize the role we all play by allowing this to creep into our lives. We must protect our children. Then end.  We have to keep track of what they are watching and listening to and wearing. We need to know where they are going and who they are talking to and hanging out with. Young children should not have social media accounts you don’t have access to and you shouldn’t let them post things you don’t approve of. (And unless your child is paying for their own phone and phone bill, that’s YOUR phone and you’re in charge of how it is used. Don’t forget that.) Beyond that, until our society gets back to making God a priority rather than a second thought, I’m not sure it’s going to get better any time soon. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us that we will have trouble. Not that we might have trouble or we could.  We will. He also goes on to say we should not lose faith because He has overcome the world. That’s what we must all cling to.