The finer delicacies and graces in society were already on their way out, but a few years of deafening, debilitating restrictions, not to mention expanding technology that enslaves us to our phones and lonely hours locked away and the already lost arts have nearly completely slipped from our grasp.
But there is hope.
The persistence and revival of things like writing a note, making cookies for your new neighbor, or having the whole family over for a big backyard cookout, is up to us individually. Which means we have the very special opportunity to get back to basics and create the slow-living, community-focused, family-filled, interconnected, enriched life that we want.
To combat the last few years of isolation and the faltering culture that is blooming big and ugly from a society with all the wrong priorities, here are a few simple pleasures and lost arts to revive in your life.
Using Sir & Ma’am
I know we all try to make manners a priority in our lives. But they’re one of those things that can fade with time and without regular usage. One of the “manners” we seemed to have lost is the usage of “sir” and “ma’am.” These titles show respect in a very simple way. And even though they might seem stuffy and outdated, a case can be made for their resurgence across all generations; you don’t have to be old to be called sir or ma’am. Getting these terms back into our lexicon could be one tiny way to encourage respect for humanity in general, not just authority, but the human soul and each individual’s deeper value as a person.
We like to blame modern music and Hollywood for the crudeness in this world, but if we’re being honest, the other side of that coin is simple laziness. Something so simple as proper eye contact, good listening skills, thank you notes, proper table manners, patience, and helping others goes a long way to making you a better, more well-rounded person. And more than that, you’ll be someone that is well liked, looked up to, and generally thought of as kind and generous. These social graces are such simple things! How did we lose them?
Within the last 5-7 years, cursive, as a skill, has been removed from the Common Core State Standards guidance followed by public schools. While schools can choose whether or not to include it in their curriculum, it is not required, and the change sparked a huge debate. Cursive is painstaking to learn, let alone master, but offers students (and all who use it) a chance to discipline their minds and perfect themselves in one aspect of life.
Luckily for cursive, there is ample support for its resurgence with some like Alabama State Rep. Dickie Drake believing that “your cursive writing identifies you as much as your physical features do.”
In the same vein as cursive, we have a sharp and sad decline in handwritten notes amongst the newer generations. There is something so personal and unique in a handwritten note, but they’ve become absolute novelties instead of daily occurrences. When you write a handwritten note or letter, you’re taking your time, you’re thinking through your words, carefully considering their spelling, challenging your mind (think writing in a straight line [laughing emoji]) and sparking creativity and connection.
By banishing this habit, we’ve switched to a quick, nearly thoughtless, emotionless communication style that sometimes leaves us less connected than before.
People and connectedness are not poisons – they are lifeblood. And serving others is a privilege we often take for granted. Whether you have an abundance or very little, offering hospitality to others is a gift for everyone involved; everyone is treated to a warm meal, good company, and deep conversation. Hospitality goes further than a Sunday dinner, though, and can just be taking a sick friend a care package, or running cookies over to the neighbors who just moved in. Hospitality is thinking of others before yourself and making sure their needs are met. Hospitality can be hard, especially when we feel we are lacking, but there is always a way to show kindness.
When was the last time you had a good, heart-to-heart conversation? Conversation is a bit of a skill, but with a little practice, it can be a healing, creative, and fulfilling outlet. It is also the core of most good friendships and relationships; it brings people together, solves problems, invites new ideas, and creates a sense of community – even between just two people. So this is your sign to grab your favorite drink and snack, invite a few friends over or gather the family, and have a good, old-fashioned conversation.
The age of the internet has simultaneously encouraged and destroyed curiosity. It is no longer a mystery and then a hunt for information, we simply tap in a few random buzzwords into Google and have our answers right at our fingertips. And sometimes we don’t even question the validity of the answer. Curiosity is a gift we humans were given that allows us to explore our world, learn new skills, and ask questions!
More than that, curiosity is what makes learning something new and fun – and we all need a little fun in our lives right now. This past year, the AmericanMom community tried something new. We took on the challenge of baking bread for our families and avoiding store-bought bread — for one whole month. And it was glorious! The amount of knowledge spread between us, the feeling of accomplishment, the growth and dedication, the discovery of purpose, and the love for warm, fresh bread could be felt across the country! This is possible in all areas of life, not just bread, and we should all be encouraged to be curious and try something new.
It might seem silly, but even if you’re an adult, buy yourself a science kit and spend the day exploring and learning, try learning a language, read that book you’ve always wanted to read, go for a hike with a guidebook, purchase a complicated board game and play with your family, or take a random trip somewhere new. Don’t let curiosity die!
Did you know that there are fewer than 3,000 WWII veterans still alive? Did you know that social isolation can lead to premature death and a 50% percent increased risk of dementia? There is no time like the present to visit friends, family members, and neighbors! You can learn so much from other people and their experiences – where they come from, what they did for a living, how they raised their kids, what they love to eat, where they’ve traveled, and what they regret.
You can also practice your conversation skills, write them a handwritten thank you note, and take them some baked goods. Visiting others is just another way to create community and foster connectedness in a world that can seem so shut off and lonely.
Baking bread has been around for all of humanity’s existence—it is the very definition of an ancient art and has shaped entire empires and cultures. The art of activating the yeast, growing a sourdough starter, shaping the loaf, scoring beautiful designs in the surface, and baking bread to a perfect crustiness is slowly fading as a culture norm in America. But it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of bread experts out there bringing bread back into the limelight and making it a part of their homemaking, and general skill, arsenal.
Which is why we host Knead November every year! Have you heard about our community challenge? It’s a fantastic opportunity to reconnect to this ancient art, find time in your day for meditating or praying, and provide healthy, real food for your family.
Join us from November 1-30 for our second annual Knead November event! There will be giveaways, recipes, and more!
“But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” – 2 Chronicles 15:7