Family Ladies’ Weekend.
Recently, my aunt (my dad’s baby sister) set up a group text inviting me and all my female first cousins to a weekend in the North Carolina mountains. I think I was the first to respond, “I’m in!” We all decided on a date, and in March, we met for a weekend.
Normally, I’m not up for a “girls weekend.” I don’t know why, but I’m not. This was different, though; it was family, and I actually looked forward to it. It has been a long time since I have seen my aunt and all my “girl” cousins in one place. They all live near each other in Florida, and I live in North Carolina. I’m the outlier…always have been, because my family was the part of the family that didn’t live near the rest. We moved hundreds of miles away when I was just a baby, but I have great memories of visiting my cousins in Florida when I was a little girl. Together, we learned to call doodlebugs (antlions) out of their homes in the dirt. We have memories of picking up pecans in our grandparents’ backyard and memories of getting quarters from Granddaddy and walking down to the store down the street to buy RC Colas. We have memories from Mexico Beach and wading into St Joe Bay looking for scallops. Good times.
A few days before our weekend together, my aunt texted me and asked if she could bring me anything from “down south,” meaning the Florida Panhandle. I immediately had an answer, “Yes! I’d love some Mayhaw Jelly!” If you’re not from the Deep South, you’re likely not familiar with Mayhaw Jelly. It is a jelly made from the fruit of the Mayhaw tree, which is found in/near wetlands in deep south states. You can read about the Mayhaw in Southern Living here. My daddy grew up in the Florida Panhandle, and I suppose he introduced my mother to it after she moved there from Birmingham, Alabama. My parents loved it, and I love it too. The red fruit of the beautiful Mayhaw tree is actually rather sour, but the jelly is sweet and delicious. The jelly is great on biscuits, toast, in pastries, and I even eat it on bread with peanut butter. Just as I knew she would, my aunt brought me some, and it does not disappoint. She got it from a farmer’s market in Panama City, but if you’d like to try some Mayhaw Jelly, you can get it from Amazon here. The jelly on Amazon is made in Louisiana, and I haven’t tried it from that particular place, but it could be your easy-to-obtain introduction to Mayhaw Jelly.
Not only did my aunt bring me some Mayhaw Jelly, but she also surprised me with some water from the Florida Panhandle! It’s called Proud Source. The company bottles some of their water in the Rocky Mountains and some in the Apalachicola Forest in the Florida Panhandle. It’s good, smooth, alkaline, spring water. I first encountered it when I was in the Bahamas last fall. How shocked was I when I looked at my aluminum bottle of water and saw it was bottled in Marianna, Florida?!?! They “bottle” it in aluminum, because apparently, aluminum has a higher recycle yield than both plastic and glass. Soon after that Bahamas trip, I told my aunt what I had seen, and she was familiar with it. Before our ladies’ weekend, she purchased some to bring me in North Carolina. If you’d like to try it, you can order from Amazon here.
While I enjoyed the gifts my aunt brought me, I especially enjoyed getting to spend time with my cousins. As I said before, I didn’t grow up near them, but I have lots of memories with them. It was nice to have an opportunity to make more memories with them as a group. We visited a winery/vineyard. We ate at some great restaurants. We made fun of each other, which is what cousins do, right? We exchanged shopping tips. My aunt and I watched some March Madness college basketball and drank spritzers while the other ladies went out shopping, but most of all, we all laughed and talked…my favorite things to do! I know my parents were looking down from Heaven with joy in their hearts. Daddy loved his family, and he would be thrilled that we all got together. My aunt tells me she will plan another ladies’ trip, and I’m looking forward to it!
If you haven’t spent time with extended family in a while, I highly recommend it! (I also recommend some Mayhaw Jelly.)