If you haven’t been to Texas, I suggest a visit so you can understand exactly why most Texans take such pride in their state AND why you may feel like you are in a “whole other country”. We just visited my relatives in a small town outside of Paris (far from France) called Roxton, population 642. This is a town famous for my grandmother’s apricot fried pies and also for their annual Fourth of July parade. We arrived at 9:30 am, just in time to stand in the scorching heat and 100 percent humidity, to ensure we got a good spot. I was so happy to see my Uncle Jimmy and noticed his t-shirt that said “Texas, Greatest Country in the World”. I immediately felt at home, not just because I was happy to be back in my home town, but because I knew I was with my fellow Texans and we all shared a great love for our family roots and truly understood the meaning of sayings like cowgirl up, don’t mess with Texas, hide your crazy and be a lady, and get ‘er done.

I noticed my husband, a Cuban from Jersey, was missing and found him sitting by himself in our rental minivan with the AC blasting. I opened the door and overheard him talking on the phone saying “Yeah dude, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s like a whole other country here and people are so nice. They even wave to you as you drive by them on the street.” I smiled realizing that this big, tough guy who is a retired Lieutenant, was totally out of his element surrounded by such friendly folks, bugs called chiggers, pistol packing waitresses, and real cowboys with a handshake just as firm as his very own.

It wasn’t just the friendly people that were so different, it was the parade itself as well. Sure in other parts of the country you may be able to watch a parade with cool vintage trucks, but not so sure you would see one like the Roxton parade with the most beautiful John Deere tractors and the young girls that drove them, gloried four-wheel drive golf carts, and a cowboy named Earl that rode a real Texas long horn and even let you take pictures with him.

When my husband was brave enough to venture out of the minivan, my Granny told him “Here in Texas, we don’t watch parades from the car”. Was that comment meant to be some sort of advice for life, or just for Texas parades?? All I know, is I take anything Granny says as words of wisdom. After all, it was her dating advice to “Give the cop a chance”, that was the very reason I even went on that first date with my husband. He offered my 90 year old Granny a ride home from the parade back to her house, only to be turned down because she would rather walk home, and this made me really appreciate the strong women in my family. I flatter myself to think I am even a little like my grandmother. And when I saw the lunch Granny had prepared: bbq brisket, corn on the cobb, potato casserole, banana pudding, and cowboy caviar, I gladly went off my California girl diet of organic greens and steamed tilapia.

So if you want to meet some wonderful people, see some good looking long horns, taste some real bbq and homemade ice-cream, or try some of my granny’s homemade fried pies, I suggest y’all visit Texas. Just don’t forget to take a can of insect repellant for the darn chiggers. You will meet some of the nicest people with the biggest hearts and when they ask “How are y’all?” They genuinely care about how you are doing. I am proud to be a Texan, always have been and always will be.