Gra-tə-tüd

How would the Pilgrims sum up today’s society? What would they think about our addiction to 24/7 news? 

Would they be shocked at the inordinate amount of time we spend feasting on negative headlines, criticizing others, and staring at a rectangular screen on a wall?

How would the Pilgrims react if they saw us screaming, “Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?” into our mobile devices? Or if they heard us whining: “Oh, no, my washer is broken. Ugh. I’ll have to go to the laundromat”?

After they absorbed their shock and awe over how far we’ve come in transportation and technology, they would eventually look at us and roll their eyes. Yes, they would.

“What a bunch of WSBs (Wimpy, Sissy, Babies)”—that’s what they would say.

OK. Maybe they wouldn’t use those exact words, but that’s the gist of it. The Pilgrims would be ashamed of us.

Gratitude. Most of us can recite Webster’s definition, but I’m not certain we grasp the full meaning of the word. We includes me.

In December 1621, Edward Winslow wrote a letter describing the first Thanksgiving. He said the corn and barley crops had faired well. Peas—not so much.

Winslow spoke of men going fowling “so that we might …in a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.” He talked of feasting with the great Wampanoag leader Massasoit and ninety of his warriors.

Said Winslow, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

I’d make a bad Pilgrim. 

If I traveled back in time to live with the Pilgrims for a week or so, they would take me aside after a couple of hours and say, “You are not a Pilgrim. You are not an Indian. You’re a softie.”

They’d be correct.

I hope I wouldn’t, but after 30 minutes of grinding corn, I’d probably complain of a sore arm. I’d wince at the mention of wringing the neck of a chicken. 

If a Pilgrim gave me a knife and told me to clean a turkey or a squirrel or a deer from that day’s hunt, I’d run for the nearest tree.

I wouldn’t be much good at growing crops, but I’d do my share in bringing in the harvest. I might not whine about gathering water and wood in a Plymouth summer, but in icy January?

Brrrrrrrr.

I can see the Pilgrims shaking their heads now. “Hopeless,” they’d whisper to one another. “She’s hopeless.”

Imagining a Pilgrim’s life fills me with gratitude for the things I take for granted. I’m thankful—not for a state-of-the-art kitchen, but for having appliances that make cooking easy.

I sing praises for my comfy bed—for grocery stores, electricity, cars, indoor plumbing, toothpaste and toilet paper.

I could get along without a microwave oven, a dishwasher, and a clothes dryer. But you can bet, after a few days with the Pilgrims, I’d hug my clothes washer after each use.

If I had to, I could live without air conditioning, but heating is pretty high on my must-have list. If I had to, I could live without a computer and television.

In reality, I can live without any “thing”—as long as I have my family and friends.

The Pilgrims gave thanks for not a perfect, but a decent harvest. They gave gratitude to God for food, friends, and family rather than material items. They rejoiced in survival—living.

This Thanksgiving, let’s make an oath to appreciate—everyday—the life and love that surrounds us. We are blessed beyond measure.

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