I’m an old soul, in love with forgotten traditions.
Our high-speed lives seem to fly by, calendar days spinning off into distant memory.
I often crave a slower pace, or to reserve at least a little of my time for beauty and connection. Why do we so quickly abandon lovely things just because something new comes along? Why can’t we accept new technology and still value what came before?
I’m all about social progression, but I hate to see quality traditions left behind for a faster-paced life.
Here are 11 lovely traditions I’d like to revive:
1. Entertainment-free dinners. How many of us are guilty of having rushed dinners or dinners set to the sound of our favorite television programs? It’s so easy to fall into the habit of entertaining ourselves with TV or smartphones, rather than enjoying a meal without entertainment. Whether we live alone or have families, we can take the time at least one night a week to enjoy a meal without distractions—to set the table and perhaps light a candle or two. We can enjoy a conversation or simply enjoy the quiet.
2. Radio hour. I actually own a record player and have found records of old radio shows. Some of them are suspense programs or music. What if we brought this back? What if we took the time to listen to a program? It could be a record, talk radio, a podcast, or even an audiobook.
3. Ballroom dance. I once took a social dance course in college, and I have always admired ballroom dance. Why don’t we have this anymore? There are so many clubs for dancing, but so few places exist for simply dancing cheek to cheek with the ones we love.
4. Handwritten letters. This is probably my favorite of this list. I adore handwritten letters! There’s something magical about taking the time to write out our thoughts and send them slowly to a friend. And how special it is to open our mail and see that someone thought of us and took the time to write!
5. Long walks. Our fast-paced lives allow so little time for a slower pace. What would our lives be like if we enjoyed long walks more often? We can walk alone and take time to enjoy nature and to reflect on our lives, or we can enjoy a walk with family, friends, or our significant others. One of my best dates involved dinner and a long walk afterward.
6. Reading stories aloud. The art of oral storytelling has fallen away. Does anyone even tell ghost stories around campfires anymore? Telling a story we’ve heard or created, or even reading a story aloud has a certain magic to it. There’s something beautiful and special about sharing a story with someone else, and I long for a resurgence in this tradition.
7. Repurposing old things. Think Great Depression era rationing and economy. There has been a resurgence (thank you, Pinterest) in repurposing old things, and I love this! We can take a worn out hardcover book and turn it into a clock rather than throwing it out. We can turn old jars into vases for flowers or old magazines into collages. Nearly everything can have another use when it’s worn out, if only we consider the possibilities!
8. Picking wildflowers and berries. I grew up in the country, and it was quite common to pick wildflowers or berries each spring. While some of us don’t have access to simply walk outside and pick what we like, we can go to farms where we can pick our own strawberries or sunflowers. Doing this nurtures our inner child and allows some quality time to appreciate beauty.
9. Growing our own victory gardens. Victory gardens were a way of producing fruit and vegetables during wartime, but why don’t we all produce at least a little of the food we consume? If we did, we can be sure it’s not sprayed with harmful chemicals, and we would also have the satisfaction of having grown it ourselves. Even in apartments, we can often create container gardens to grow herbs, fruit, or vegetables.
10. Long phone conversations. I enjoy a good text, but I adore a long phone conversation. The sound of a loved one’s voice over the line is so much better than words on a screen, and it helps to build relationships.
11. Quality time offline. Even more than I enjoy phone conversations, I love quality time. So much of our interactions take place non-verbally, in texts, instant messages, emails, or on social media. So often, we don’t want to take the time to spend time in person with others. We go, go, go and rarely stop. But the people we love need quality time where we’re not looking at our phones or distracting ourselves with entertainment. They need us to show up and simply be with them.
Our lives are going by all too fast, and we cannot hold on to the moments. We cannot stop the forward march of technology or turn back the clock.
And I don’t long for an earlier time. It’s hard to believe America could be made great again when it wasn’t great in the first place—looking back at years of oppression of women and minorities over the history of our country.
From the beginning, we stole land and lives from the indigenous people. We moved forward and targeted those who were different and burned them as witches. We enslaved other human beings for profit. We allowed women to be second-class citizens with no rights to their children, property, bodies or lives. We’ve placed Asians in internment camps and confused Muslims with Islamic extremists. No, I don’t want to go back to any of these times. I only want to move forward.
But can we please bring with us, in our march toward social progression, some of the lovely things from earlier times? Can we take long walks and have long phone conversations while maintaining our intersectional feminism? Can we grow a victory garden and pick wildflowers side by side with those of all backgrounds, religions, social classes, and ethnicities?
Can we take away the heteronormative restrictions of ballroom dance and dance cheek to cheek with whomever we love without judgment? Can we create stories that speak our truths without infringing upon the basic human rights of others? Can our quality time be with all people and not just people who look and sound and act like we do?
I would like to leave behind the limitations that we’ve created out of fear and ignorance. But I don’t want to lose any of the loveliness in our rush to move forward. I want to keep these lovely traditions, and I want them to be compassionate and inclusive.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Mark Sebastian/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman