Still the same

From Plymouth Rock to Facebook Thanksgiving hasn’t changed

Facebook, part of what’s come to be called the “social media,” is a long way from the first Thanksgiving in that far-ago fall of 1621 near a rocky Massachusetts coastline.

But the two, separated by time, culture and technology, have more in common than you might expect.

Since Oct. 24, Facebook users have been encouraged to post one item per day for which they are grateful. Many are doing so and the responses have been, for the most part, heart-warming.

The overwhelming majority of “I’m grateful...” posts have been for family, friends and the blessings in life’s spiritual side.

In other words, the hearts of many of today’s Facebook generation are remarkably in tune with those of the Pilgrims, who were giving thanks for facing a winter that had prospects to be not quite so grim as the previous one when half of them died.

For what are Facebookers grateful? A quick scan of the past two weeks’ posts monitored by one account show thanks for sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, reliable transportation, faith, caring neighbors, gainful employment, loving pets, beautiful weather, meaningful music and the sacrifices of veterans.

One particularly poignant “thanks” involved the memory of a long-gone grandparent “who loved us” in the absence of a parent.

Surprisingly few thanks for the latest smart phone, techno gadget, $230,000 sports car, or glamourous celebrity.

In other words, the basics for human hearts and minds in 2012 sound a lot like the basics in 1621.

That’s not to say there weren’t more than a few “I’m thankful the Aggies beat Alabama” posts. But let’s not fool ourselves. There’s a spiritual dimension to the lives of sports fans. (“Fan” is, after all, short for “fanatic.”)

Thanksgiving has always been, at heart, a holiday of the spirit more than a date on the calendar, a history lesson or an excuse to stuff ourselves into insensibility.

Our society has certainly changed but the basics never do. Just ask the folks on Facebook.—M.B.

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2012-11-22 digital edition

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