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A Beginner’s Guide to Texas

From Texas pride to green bean casserole, living in the Lone Star State takes some getting used to
Photo: Quinn Calder | Shutterstock

From Texas pride to green bean casserole, living in the Lone Star State takes some getting used to.

While we all appreciate the calmer pace and sunnier warmer weather, since relocating to Texas from the East Coast last year, there have been a few things that have caught us by surprise.

Photo: D Guest Smith | Shutterstock

  1. You cannot show too much Texas pride. It’s simply impossible to own and display too many items with the Texas flag on it. Believe it or not, but in other states, you would never walk around with a t-shirt with the outline of the state you are actually in. That’s for tourists. But here, just about everywhere looks like an airport gift shop with signs, flags, bumper stickers, potholders, glasses, key chains and even soaps in the shape of the state or proudly emblazoned with the Lone Star. State pride is unabashedly on display everywhere. 
  2. I can’t say enough great things about refills. To native Texans or those who have been here too long to remember, there are still uncivilized parts of our nation where you must actually pay for a second glass of iced tea or soda. I find myself gulping away just because I know I can and not because I’m particularly thirsty. And the day we discovered that we could ask for a complimentary “to-go” cup we all left the restaurant like giddy little children on Christmas morning. 
    Photo: from my point of view | Shutterstock
  3. Grackles. There is nothing nice to say about these black prehistoric-looking pests that swarm parking lots and perch atop cars daring defenseless drivers to get back inside. Without any fear, they take over patios leaving “puddles” on furniture, grills, and flooring. If you are able to shoo them away they merely fly to the top of your fence and sit there mocking you.   

  4. There are churches and dentist offices on nearly every corner.  Everyone knows that there are more than enough churches to choose from, but apparently Texans have more teeth than other Americans. In other parts of the country, you actually need to Google or ask a friend to help you find a dentist. Here, all you need to do is drive five minutes and you have your pick. 
  5. Green bean casserole.  Before this past holiday season, we had never heard of it. We did not realize the extent of the necessity of making this dish until we were out shopping this past October and witnessed the crates of canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French onions on display.  Fortunately, the good ladies of our Sunday school class took pity on my Northern naivete and schooled me on the making of this quintessential holiday classic. 
  6. Decorating the ground with Christmas lights.  At first, we couldn’t figure out what was unique about this and then we realized there were lights on the ground. Two reasons this doesn’t work up North: frozen ground and snow (and by snow I mean several feet of it.) 
    Photo: Thomas Torget | Shutterstock
  7. Basically our definitions of “Hot” “Cold” and “Snow” have all changed. “Hot” now means that the temperature is above 105 and we have been sitting out in the sun for more than one hour.  “Cold” means anything below 50, and “Snow” means any form of white precipitation falling from the sky.  It doesn’t matter if it actually sticks to the ground, it just matters that it fell from the sky.
  8. Basements. Or rather, the absence of basements. Or to say it another way: the necessity to rent a storage unit to store all your junk. In other parts of the country you just throw all that stuff you don’t want to throw out, but will never use again, down the basement stairs, close the door, and forget about it.  Here you actually need to put effort into packing it into your car and driving to the storage unit.
  9. Do not act suspicious when a stranger opens the door for you. There are places in this world where strangers open doors not to be polite, but to make sure they get through them before you. It actually takes a little while to realize people are merely using their manners and are not in a huge rush.
  10. And lastly, and not to be too shocking, but merely as an observation, the usage of Y’all. Simply put I had never heard Y’all uttered from someone’s mouth until moving to Texas. It takes some getting used to. And in fact, the first time I used it, I misused it.  I was promptly corrected that y’all means more than one person. I still can’t use it without it feeling forced and awkward. But it’s my goal by next Christmas to be able to make a green bean casserole in my Texas-shaped pan and exclaim, “Merry Christmas, Y’all!”

This article was originally published on Feb. 23, 2017