Imagine a time traveling pilgrim joined your family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year. After you got over the surprise of finding in individual wearing a tall hat, short pants, stockings, funny looking shoes, and possibly carrying an antique weapon in your dining room, you’d have to wonder about the differences between 1622 and 2014. Questions might include what this visitor thought about modern homes, holiday foods, and current pastimes to celebrate a national holiday that ties contemporary Americans to one of the first English settlements in the new world.
Wouldn’t that guest be surprised to find our homes outfitted with thermostat-operated heating units that don’t require a body to cut and stack enough wood to last the winter. Next, imagine eyes widening at the sight of water running through a faucet into a sink that drains and the exclamations of surprise when the traveler discovered that a simple flick of a handle turned that fluid hot. Astonishment would continue as the newcomer wandered about flicking switches that turned lights on and off and rotated knobs that made burners glow and ovens heat. I chuckle to think about the first trip to an indoor bathroom. Surely, this guest would yell in wonder when he heard that flush.
After recovering from so many unexpected surprises, the company would join the family at the table. While the lack of King James-style thous, thees, thys, and thines in the before-meal- prayer would confuse him, he’d recognize gratitude when he saw it. Despite feeling unsettled by all these new experiences, he’d identify the tantalizing scents wafting off roasting turkey and baked ham. That creamed corn and whole cranberry sauce might look a little familiar too, but he’d be confused at the selection of olives, celery, and okra on the relish tray. French-fried onion-topped green bean casserole, marshmallow-crowned sweet potatoes swimming in a bath of melted butter and modern stuffing would defy explanation. Despite the traditional beginnings of this feast, Mr. Pilgrim wouldn’t recognize much of its contemporary presentation.
After dinner, everyone, including this guest, would cave-in to the post pig-out nap urge. He’d follow the crowd into the living room or den. After folks settled into their seats on the couch, recliners, and floor, he’d wonder about those tiny figures in helmets and bright jerseys hitting one another and chasing after an elliptical shape on a flat screen. A youngster playing X Box in the corner would add to his confusion. How did that child control the characters dashing about and firing weapons that didn’t require immediate reloading in this contraption? Another youngster tapping away at the keyboard on a cell phone would catch his eye at some point. What caused those frequent dings and vibrations accompanied by the teen’s chuckles? Why weren’t folks talking to one another?
Life has changed considerably since 1620 when pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock. Some changes are good and some require consideration. It’s worth taking a moment this time of year when we count blessings to think about how a predecessor would view the world we have created.