When old-fashioned is worth it

I’m not a hyper-traditional person. I like traditions when they mean something, but am perfectly willing to toss out ones that are antiquated or empty. However, sometimes us younger folks — particularly with how busy emerging adulthood can be — leave worthwhile traditions by the wayside when we shouldn’t.

So here are my favorite old-fashioned habits, all driven by practicality, kindness, or both:

  • Never return a dish empty. If someone brings you food or sends you home with leftovers, always clean the dish and bring it back with something in it. I usually go for fruit or something that requires minimal cleaning on the part of the dish’s owner. (Thanks to my stepmom and grandma for teaching me this one.)
  • Thank you cards. Every year, my January is full of writing thank you cards from both Christmas and my birthday. It’s not the kind of thing that most people think of as a must anymore, but it makes people feel special and lets them know their gift/card/etc. was appreciated. (Thanks to my mom for enforcing this one when I was young.)
  • Newspaper subscriptions. If you read your news online that’s totally cool, but subscriptions to outlets your support keeps it so good journalists can do their jobs. I’m currently researching my first subscription now that I have a full-time job. (Thanks to Elizabeth Smith and Courtenay Stallings for teaching me why it matters.)
  • Buying music, books, etc. There are a million and one ways to get free stuff, but if I like it, I try really hard to buy it so I can support the artist or author. This not only allows them to keep doing what they love and I enjoy, but makes an economic statement, however small, that emphasizes the value of art that’s often ignored over numbers. (Thanks to all the artists who showed me this, whether I’ve met you or not.)
  • Charitable giving. This one is perhaps less old-fashioned, but for too many of us is only remembered when there’s a crisis. If you’ve got time or money or any way to give back, it’s worth it — more on that here. (Thanks to the folks who support the places I’ve donated and volunteered for making a difference I can add to.)

As a note, I’m aware that pretty much everything I’ve listed requires spending of some sort, and while I feel fortunate to (usually) be able to afford these things, I realize that isn’t possible for everyone — and wasn’t always the case for me. If price is an issue, try creative solutions like homemade thank you cards, leaving positive reviews for books/artists/organizations, or any other ideas to convey the same thought while staying within what you can afford.

What are your favorite kindly traditions? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

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