Traditionalists (born before 1941)

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The mega-funerals of two greats-in-their-own-way, royalty-in-their-own-right of the Traditonalist Generation are broadcast for the world a day apart. We mourn and pay our last respects.

As their peers and protégées stand on the dais to memorialize Senator McCain and Miss Franklin, we learn about these two diverse Traditionalists.

More than that, we see the values of their generation from the perspectives of two distinct cultures.

I am thunderstruck at what a generation of greatness they represent. And as this generation dies off, what a loss of goodness it is for all of us.

At the risk of oversimplifying, one value defines their generation.

Others Before Self

If you have a Traditionalist friend, count yourself lucky, hashtag blessed. This is the generation raised to be seen and not heard. It is the generation that served selflessly in the military during World War II.

Their choices were few: Grow up, get married, have babies and teach them to do the same.

Their father’s profession often predetermined their choice of career. Farmers begat farmers. Lawyers begat more lawyers.

In the case of Mr. McCain, naval officer begat naval officer.

In the unusual case of Miss Franklin, clergy begat gospel singer. Most women were raised to become stay-at-home moms. I shudder to think what might have happened if her gifts were pigeon-holed, instead of recognized, cultivated and shared with the world.

For most of the Traditionalist generation, their preferences, their creativity, their sexuality were not a consideration.

Words used to describe Mr. McCain and Miss Franklin were similar to each other, and to others in their generation:

Gracious

Selfless

Moral

Engaged

Strong

Loyal

Helpful

Down-to-earth

Always a friend

Faithful

Frugal

The Traditionalists are the oldest generation on our planet today. They lived through the depression (or were raised by parents who had gone through it). They have known hard times, worked hard, lived frugally, and become prosperous.

How do we communicate with Traditionalists?

They will use email. They do well on the phone. But they simply prefer the written letter. Pen pals, love letters, family letters were all a part of their upbringing.

Writing letters is such an important skill to the Traditionalist, they taught their children to write a proper thank you note.

When you look at the values of the Traditionalist listed above, the thank you note is a representation of all of them combined!

Then the generational expectations get a little more difficult to understand. Traditionalists expect their grandchildren to write a proper thank you note too. Woe to the parents of those beloved grandchildren if they fail to send a thank you note!

You may have heard something like this (or even said it): “I sent your son a birthday gift two weeks ago and I haven’t gotten a thank you note. Do you know if he received it?”

Please consider Traditionalists the “Guardians of the Thank You Note,” not the thank you note police.

They’re just looking for the values they imparted to you. In your children, In written form.

If your kids don’t send a thank you note, its not just a social infraction. Grandparents don’t know if they are valued.

“So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.” Acts 15:30-31

Hand-written notes, no matter how simple, are as profound to the Traditionalist generation as they were in the early church.

Letters make an impact on the Traditionalist generation. Even if they are a senator. Or the Queen of Soul.

So if you want to make an impact with with a Traditionalist friend, send a note!

Have you written a note lately? With a Forever stamp? And sent it through the mail?

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