Not All Gifts of the Season Are Wrapped With a Bow by Karen Coney Coplin

Karen Coney Coplin

The month of December dawns upon us, signaling one final fresh start at the end of the year. It holds the promise of miracles beyond measure, together with the welcome prospect of beginning anew as the calendar turns over to 2022.

It is a month (really, like all others) holding the prospect of adventure, gatherings, reflection, and much joy. Of course, there is always the possibility of a counterweight. Perhaps more than ever in recent times. For a moment here, though, let us recall an ancient age in which there was only enough lamp oil to burn one night, and still, it continued to burn for eight nights. For many, the light shining within was echoed by the external triumph of an enduring flame.

And, too, another long ago event: the arrival of a prince in perhaps the most humble of settings; his birth on a bedding of hay in a stable, “away in a manger, no crib for a bed.” Other kings traveled long distances amid harsh conditions to welcome and honor his arrival.

Those distant historical markers are the foundational anchors to many families during the holiday season. Taking a glance at the December calendar, we quickly see that there is reason for hopeful anticipation. But, first – we need to get through the next 31 days. That is not always an easy challenge. This season is often the toughest for those who have weathered a loss of any sort.

If it is the loss of a loved one, the grief journey may seem as though it is cast upon a treacherous road, with certain memories as landmines. This is especially true if the loss is recent. With some 60,000+ COVID-19 deaths in Florida alone, it is likely that a reader or a friend of a reader will know someone lost to this illness or another cause. Let me join those offering peaceful and caring condolences to our readers experiencing the loss of a loved one.

It may seem nearly impossible to believe, but, for those confronting a recent loss, a time eventually will come in which this pain is felt less keenly. It doesn’t change the absence; it merely allows for the acceptance of a new way of life without a certain person by your side.

This season offers fertile ground to tap into vivid holiday memories. Take a moment to think about loved ones now departed. Remember these wonderful people gathered alongside you, joyful and alive.

The summoned memories can be recent or distant. In either instance, the recollections can be searing, regardless of placement in time. Please be gentle with yourself. Finding a steady footing and healing takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time. Everyone’s grief journey is unique.

Within your circle of family and friends, hopefully, too, you can recall many happy times and this will make you smile despite feeling sad in other moments.

We all need hope. Here, a toast to times ahead in which you, and, indeed, all of us, can gather in celebration with loving family and friends to exchange gifts. Noting, of course, the most meaningful gifts of the season may be found within our hearts, hands and head. Be open to receiving these as presented.

FEATURED PHOTO  “Bells Ringing in Towers, New Year’s Eve in Venice.” Artist: the late Bob Kane; estate represented locally by Harmon-Meek Gallery.

Karen Coney Coplin can be reached at to share an idea for a future article or a comment. On Instagram, follow her adventures about Life in Naples: @Naplesbythenumbers

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