Unexpected circumstances bring stress. That’s the story of the 102 pilgrims on the Mayflower. With excitement, they had set sail for the Hudson River region, but they missed their target by 150 miles. Instead, they landed at Plymouth Rock, MA, and decided to settle there.
They landed in November, 1620—the beginning of a brutal winter. Unprepared for the challenges of life in a new land, they were missing the basics of life, especially adequate food. Scurvy (from lack of vitamin C in fruits and vegetables) and pneumonia claimed two or three people per day during January and February. By the next spring, they had lost half their people. Unexpected circumstances put their future in doubt.
Springtime brought favorable weather, and the remaining pilgrims established a settlement in the wilderness. They planted gardens and crops that sustained them, and they made friends with the local Native American tribes. After the harvest of a successful corn crop, their leader, Governor Bradford, called for a feast to celebrate. They invited their native neighbors. Food, family and friends were featured at the first Thanksgiving.
Stress and gratefulness cannot exist in the human mind at the same time. One crowds out the other. The pilgrims had painful memories. Things had not gone as planned. But they made a decision to be grateful—to focus on the blessings they had received.
There are many circumstances we can stress about, but there are even more for which we can be grateful. The choice is ours.