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Vail Daily column: Be on the lookout for miracles

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

Everyone is talking about how bad things are in the world. I’m not a big complainer so I’m looking around trying to find the miracles.

The miracle of friendship. Extremely fortunate people have friends they’ve gone through life with since the earliest years of childhood. I came to girlfriends a little later in life. With the demands of raising children, homeschooling for years, working from home, I just never had (or more truthfully, made) time for girlfriends. There are few things that have been as sweet for me as finding a couple of friends who just fit – especially at this time in my life. Carve out some time this season to share some cheer with your friends; it’s marvelous.

The miracle of food. As we all prepare for a bountiful holiday in a pristine and affluent ski town, one in four children in America does not have enough to eat. I vow this year to never complain about going to the grocery store (my least favorite task). Being able to drive a couple of minutes to a market overflowing with healthy foods and then filling my refrigerator for my family is an enormous privilege that 50.1 million Americans do not regularly share.



The miracle of family. My oldest son will be in California for Thanksgiving this year; my mom in Orange County; my sister will be in Minnesota, my brother in L.A; and this is my second son’s last Thanksgiving living at home as he prepares to leave for Oregon to attend college in the spring (keep it together, Jill). I’m trying to consider myself lucky to have a family that is so spread out because it forces me to value the time I have with them, making the days we are all together so much richer. The deep attachment I have to these few people is indescribable, but the distance truly can make those relationships more meaningful. I’m eagerly anticipating the miracle of the cell phone calls of the day, which always start with laughter and, after I hang up, end with a few tears. The bonds of family, surviving the thorny and complex trials that are life, and emerging even stronger over the years, are nothing short of wondrous.

The miracle of motherhood. My mother is a tower. You might be surprised I say that if you saw her stand at 5-foot-1-inch tall, but it’s true nonetheless. She is the kind of mom who spends her time knitting blankets for underprivileged babies. They are so exquisite she could sell these pieces at an exorbitant price, but she donates them. She loves nothing more than preparing an abundant meal and sitting around the table with her family. She never forgets to send her grandkids a holiday card with a crisp bill in it. I used to think she actually ironed these dollar bills (that would be so my mother), but, she actually goes down to the bank and requests perfect bills to send to all the kids. She rings bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas in the cold (well, it is Southern California but 60 degrees is really quite cold to her). She sends $20 and instructs my husband and I to “have a lovely dinner on her” (I haven’t the heart to explain that a lovely dinner would be just a bit more than $20).-



Mothers are the ultimate givers; it begins with your own children and overflows so that soon your life is one big giving back machine – it becomes a habit that’s hard to shake. Motherhood is a true miracle; it has certainly exceeded my expectations in every way.

The small miracles all around us. There are only 22 calories in a large marshmallow; my bathroom scale inexplicably and appropriately broke the day before Thanksgiving; after years of missing the aromas coming from my mom’s kitchen during holidays, I realized my home smells just like hers; my bulldog did not get into the trash bag I left out all night; when everyone is raising prices for the season, my liquor store had Champagne on sale (and two bottles of Champagne can cure almost anything – even acute longing for a son or mother far away).

So I won’t complain that I’m homesick or that Colorado is too cold. I’m not going to complain that folks shouldn’t use plastic water bottles or that no one cares about the plight of the polar bears. I’m going to embrace the people around my Thanksgiving table and around tables all over the country. I’m going to be an example to my children by living a life of contribution and gratitude; I’m going to look hard for the good.



“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action,” –WJ Cameron

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments to-jillscolumn@gmail.com.


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