The holiday season is right around the corner. Many of us will gather around the Thanksgiving table enjoying our family and friends, giving thanks to God for the abundant blessings received and eating a lot of turkey and dressing.

The holidays, though joyous, also can be a reminder of lost loved ones and the sorrow that goes with it. If we live long enough, we’ll experience suffering as we traverse the hills and the valleys that make up the human experience.

As written in earlier columns, the recent loss of my oldest son is the worst pain imagined. It was hard to find gratitude in anything for a long time. However, I’ve learned deeply through this tragedy that no matter what we face in life, it’s how we respond that defines our tomorrow.

For me, remembering all the good years we had, and the love of my remaining children, has me on my knees in thanksgiving. Looking back on the history of the brave men and women who marched through pain also gives me additional strength to do the same.

The story begins with the brave people on the Mayflower voyage, plowing through the Atlantic to chart anew on a vast land. It was a bitterly cold day in December 1620 when they stepped foot on the shore of Plymouth Rock, weakened but determined.

Of 104 passengers on the ship, 52 survived the first winter; two to three people died every day, and only three out of 18 couples remained intact; death and sorrow became the norm. The ones who managed to make it through the horrible winter conditions hewed a thriving colony in a dangerous wilderness.

They were courageous pilgrims who learned how to plant corn and fish with the help of friendly Wampanoag Indians. When fall rolled around, they celebrated their first successful harvest with a three-day thanksgiving feast. It’s hard to believe that from this small group of people, there are 35 million decedents, my family one of them.

From those humble beginnings, despite and because of my pain, I’m choosing radical gratitude and the truth that love is the highest goal. Choose to focus on family and friends who travel this journey with us. Only through loving deeply and thinking the best of others do we learn to be thankful and happy. For it’s only our relationships that matter and how well we treat them, always remembering never to leave anyone emotionally damaged no matter what.

Taking stock of our lives as we prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, we can take away wonderful lessons from the tiny community of pilgrims who wrapped their arms around one another and made history. They believed 1 Corinthians 13 — love never fails. So, let the love of Jesus abide in your heart and keep no records of wrongs. Be patient and kind to everyone; we’re all a work in progress. Enjoy the view where you are, the clock’s ticking, and we can’t undo what’s done or said.

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(1) comment

Charles Douglas

[thumbup][thumbup] Great, Inspiring piece of work Ms. Cappiello! Your work makes me want to go out and help somebody! Thank you ...I enjoyed this!!!

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