Something about the start of a new year usually makes people reflective and causes us to make new goals. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, my "lightbulb moments" often occur while I'm driving. Such was the case this weekend. While driving down a lightless roadway, I noticed one thing that rural travel has taught me, which made me think of other things I probably wouldn't have learned if I lived somewhere else.

1.  Don't eat everybody's spaghetti.  Even if spaghetti is your favorite meal and you've never had a sauce you didn't like, most people in southern rural areas will tell you not to eat everybody's spaghetti. Here's why. (Note: It's utterly disgusting!)

2.  Watch for deer! The more natural habitats are destroyed, forest-dwelling animals' homes are pushed to more secluded areas. So, people in larger cities rarely if ever concern themselves with killing Bambi while traveling from their homes to an event or to visit loved ones. Those of us who regularly travel two-lane roadways with the occasional appearance of a street light know the importance of keeping your eyes on the road as well as what may or may not be running out of the woods.

3.  People respect the dead more than the living.  A friend recently mentioned pulling over to the side of the road for a funeral and turning his radio down and car off. I found that to be a bit much.  I do pull over, however.  Meanwhile, for the living who aren't part of a funeral processional, trying to merge into a lane is nearly impossible... Even if you have on a signal light.  People will attempt to literally drive bumper-to-bumper to keep from letting you in.  But the dead? Sure, let them by.

4.  Football isn't a sport. Especially at the collegiate level, football is a culture!  In the South, it often determines who you decide to date, fashion choices, what weddings you attend, trips you take, and even children's performances you make or miss. City streets are decorated with symbolism from the area's favorite team as are restaurant walls, home recreational rooms, and businesses. Some entrepreneurs even take a piece of the team's name and derive their business name from it.

What are some other things you've found to be authentic to a southern upbringing?