Founding Fathers Blog

Christmas with Thomas Jefferson

December 10th, 2011

Christmas tree

Earlier I proposed that we consider what it would be like to have a Founding Father as a Christmas guest. (See Christmas with Benjamin Franklin.)

A most interesting visitor for our Christmas Celebration would be Thomas Jefferson. He would love our home. He was an architect. Have you been to his home, Monticello?

I’m afraid he wouldn’t like our wide winding staircase which you see as you enter our home. He believed staircases should be narrow, with taller steps, and out of the way, not obtrusive. They should be functional and not a showpiece for the home as they were in the South. Other than that he’d like our home design–master bedroom, quiet and away from the children, whose rooms were situated upstairs. Children were to be seen and not heard.

He would really love our air-conditioning–cool in summer–warm in winter. No need for the air to have to flow across the bed, as it did in his bedroom at Monticello with the alcove bed he designed. And the lighting everywhere, wow.

Jefferson loved books (“I cannot live without books”), so he’d want to see my library. My study is upstairs. There are 3 walls of bookshelves–all full. He would wonder “who is this Abraham Lincoln, for whom you have a whole shelf of books?”  He would want to relax in my overstuffed “La-Z-Boy” reclining and swiveling chair. (He had his own overstuffed chair with candles on the armrests for reading, and a revolving bookstand he invented, so that he could read as many as four books at a time.)

He would be tickled to have his feet massaged by my electric foot messager. He’d be captivated by my big screen television located in my study, and he’d want to know all about television itself. I’d have to explain remote controls–for the TV, the overhead fans, the radio/CD player, and even the model cars!

Jefferson was an inventor. He loved gadgets. He made up a house full of them for himself–things like dumbwaiters and lazy susans. He’d have to know all about my laptop computer (Oh, if I’d had that for writing the Declaration of Independence!) the cell phones, the iPad, the iPhone, and even the electric pencil sharpener.

He would see my big Unabridged Webster’s Dictionary on its separate stand, and that would cause him to notice some books nearby, including books written by me. And my copies of Jefferson’s “The Life and Morals of Jesus” and “The Jefferson Bible.” He’d be pleased that I knew about that private side of his life.

Describing his book: “The Philosophy of Jesus” he would point out that it is proof indeed that he is a “Real Christian” and not an infidel as some have claimed. He would be truly happy that we were celebrating the birth of Christ.

I’d offer to play him some Christmas music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He would love their music, and be astounded at the clarity of the sound when the Choir was not even in the room. Jefferson was a musician himself, you know. But Tom would wonder what was this Choir with such beautiful music. They weren’t around during his lifetime. I would explain they were “America’s Choir.” A choir established by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This Church was founded in 1830, shortly after his death in 1826. They were referred to as Mormons because in addition to the Bible, they believe in another book of scripture abridged by a prophet in America whose name was Mormon, and it is called The Book of Mormon.

I would tell Jefferson about when this 350 member Mormon Tabernacle Choir was visiting  Washington, D.C. on a tour around the New England States. They stopped at the Jefferson Memorial (I’d have to show him pictures because he’s never seen it). The Choir began singing “America the Beautiful” on the steps of the Memorial. When they concluded singing, a Park Ranger asked them for their authorization to sing at that location. When they couldn’t show any authorization, the ranger issued them a citation. But soon this ranger’s immediate supervisor appeared and rescinded the citation. He noted: “this is America’s Choir– they are welcome to sing on the steps of this Memorial at any time!”

I would then play for Jefferson that Choir’s rendition of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” or “Silent Night.”  I believe Tom would be truly touched by the beautiful music along with the lights and decorations.

Then we’d return to the kitchen (inside the house, aren’t you concerned about fires?) and share some Christmas treats. He would love Christmas today. The beauty, the conveniences, the music. What’s not to love with all these new inventions?

Merry Christmas, Tom!

1 Comment

  1. Again Steve, very lovely. You are a born story teller. I love how you can weave in wonderful historical information in a current tale.

    Comment by Shirlyn Allen — December 22, 2011 @ 8:34 am

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