Preserving Tradition: Gini Abee

By Leslie Moore

Preserving Tradition: Gini Abee

Gini Abee, Carolina Coast Cotillion and Ocean Forest Cotillion

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an art teacher at St. James Middle School, and also teach TV and Yearbook classes – I’ve been in the same classroom for 20 years! This is my second career after being a real estate broker. I also teach education students at HGTC. Although I grew up in North Carolina, we spent summers in Myrtle Beach. My grandmother owned an oceanfront home, destroyed in Hurricane Hazel; my father and uncle built and shared a little beach house on that lot, and eventually built a duplex. After receiving a design degree in college, I was working in real estate, building a small condo complex near our duplex, and I met my husband, Chester. We’ve been married for 33 years. I have one son, Matthew, and one stepson, Dean. They are both married and have always been very close.

What is your special talent?

People must think my talents are in planning and organization, because I get called on to coordinate many events at my DAR Chapter and my church, Surfside United Methodist. I do press releases for my school and communications for debs and brides.

What are your holiday plans?

We’ll have a big family gathering the week before Christmas at my mother’s home in Myrtle Beach – for at least three dozen! It’s a smorgasbord spread; my dad used to say they all bring their special dishes; mine are deviled eggs, corn puddin’ and ‘tater salad. Sadly, we lost my father two years ago; although we still share in the fun and frivolity, holidays have been much more nostalgic, realizing that being together with family and friends is what is most important.

Also, we get together with school friends, our Supper Club, my church CARE Circle and my Sweet Southern Pearls. The Carolina Coast Cotillion has a Holiday Ball the weekend before Christmas and Ocean Forest Cotillion has their Annual Ball the weekend after. Cotillions were once a way to introduce young ladies to eligible suitors; now they are societal events. My mother and I founded the Ocean Forest Cotillion 25 years ago, and my youngest sister was one of the first debutantes.

We joined the Carolina Coast Cotillion when it formed 10 years ago on the south end of the beach where we live and work. In keeping with tradition, adult children of members, including my son and his wife, come to both events every year. It’s a time to build relationships, both personal and professional. Cotillion balls are a time of politeness and decorum – courteous gatherings. Our area has so few formal family events; we look forward to these Cotillions during the holiday season.

Christmas Eve finds us ushering at church for the candlelight service, before relaxing at home with a fire, and watching (and reciting every word) Christmas Vacation!

Best holiday gift?

My best ever holiday gift was our mantel clock, Chester gave me the first year we were married. We call it our Christmas Clock, and its chimes let us reflect on Christmases past, present and hopefully, many more future holidays together. When my grandmother’s home was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel, all that was left were a few timbers. In the sand and rubble, my mother glimpsed and pulled out a scarf filled with my grandmother’s jewelry! When we turned 21, all the grandchildren were given a ring designed by my father, made from these heirloom pieces, a prized possession in passing on a family tradition.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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