My sister came to visit me this past week from Canada. I kept apologizing for the cold weather. She looked at me kind of funny.
"It's minus 20 up there, and we are supposed to get even more snow, so 60 degrees is sun tan weather for us," she said.
And it was, actually sun tan/burn weather for my sister's husband, who sat out in the sun long enough to actually get a slight sunburn on one side of his face. Those crazy Canadians.
I am the eldest of three sisters and it always amazes me when I see my siblings how they are all grown up. There is a part of my brain that still thinks of us as little kids fighting over the last moon pie - but we are really all thirty something adults with jobs, families of our own, and checking accounts.
My sister Lesley travelled from Hamilton, Ontario, which is about an hour or so from Buffalo, New York, all the way to San Antonio, with her husband Kevin and her adorable little baby girl, Ella. Having travelled similar lengths with small children, I appreciate what an endeavor this really is, and I love them for coming to see us.
Spending time with my Canadian family and friends always shows me in striking ways how much I have assimilated to this Texas lifestyle.
While driving down the highway with Lesley in the car she would scream out, "A cow! Look it's a cow!"
I tried to explain to her that if she acted like that every time she saw a cow in South Texas she was going to have some problems fitting in, and that she was going to give me a heart attack.
"If the cow is standing in the middle of the highway and I am heading right for it, go ahead and scream. Otherwise, the cows are cool."
Even just the simple task of grocery shopping can be daunting if you aren't from this area. I saw her struggling with what kind of brand was good since the ones she is used to buying aren't here. I could quickly point out what she should buy and what wasn't any good. I remember being a new Texan and spending several months trying to figure out what brands of items were similar or the same to what I was used to buying in Canada - and some things just aren't available here, (and of course, many things that are available here aren't available up there, too.)
I now consider fifty degrees Fahrenheit to be cold, but when I was a kid that same temperature in the spring would have us breaking out our shorts and lawn furniture. When I order tea in a restaurant I expect it to be iced and not sweet unless I ask for it, but where I grew up if you ordered tea you would be brought some hot water and a tea bag to steep a delicious cup of hot black tea. Milk in bags seems strange now even though it was a staple in our household. I don't say "pop" anymore, I say "soda" and I even incorporate the phrase "I am fixing to..." into several sentences each day.
My sister seemed genuinely impressed by the level of friendliness and helpfulness of the people of South Texas, as I have been the past ten years. I am proud to show off where I live and explain some of the interesting cultural differences I have learned to adapt to and even love.
Just don't stand in that pile of sand that looks like dried out coffee grounds, and South Texas will treat you just fine.