Habits: Why Do They Accumulate?

This train of thought started when my daughter said, “I leave the dishes in the drain until they dry.” She said that after I started drying the dishes after supper. Why not? It’s habit. So how did this become a habit?

Speaking of drying dishes I remember an incident many years ago. My brother, ten years younger than me, came to visit us in Mississippi. Mother had told him to “help Ann.” So he thought to dry the dishes after meals would suffice. After a couple of days, as he was drying dishes and to impress me, he said, “If I were not here to dry dishes, you would have to do it yourself.” I replied, much to his chagrin, “No, I would just leave them in the dish drain until they dried by themselves.” The next day he got up from the table after lunch and began to follow Bill outdoors. Bill asked, “Aren’t you going to help Ann?” Tom said, as you have probably guessed, “No, I’m going to dry the dishes the way she does.” Out he went with Bill.

Why then do I dry dishes now? It’s because of Bill. After we both retired he started washing dishes. It was to get them ready to put in the dishwasher. Sooner than later I put an end to that process. Why clean dishes in preparation for the dishwasher? Only to have them sanitized?

So Bill washed the dishes and put them in the dish drain. I would busy myself with clearing and wiping the table, then putting leftovers away. Dishes piled up in the drain. Not good. Bill does not know how to stack higher than the back slats or a first layer. He wants dishes dried so he can add a pot or pan that doesn’t fit neatly in the drain. So I began to dry dishes, even to stack them on the counter before putting them away. I had to keep up with my favorite dishwasher.

Now that we are here together in our three-generation home, I love what Emily says: “Grandpa is the best dishwasher I’ve even known.” That’s because he takes it as his mission. When he had the flu last week his only complaint was that we would not let him wash or dry dishes. How’s that for an ingrained and thoughtful habit?


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I love the Lord. To those I love I am wife, mother, granny, great-granny. To my corner of the world I am a writer.

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