Silver & Gold

Karen Coney Coplin

The Christmas TV classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer introduces many special characters including Sam the Snowman. The famous balladeer Burl Ives lent his voice to the narrator’s many songs. Sam’s opening number “…everyone wishes for silver and gold,” asks how these are valued.

Is it because of the pleasure given by material things, the appearances such things provide, or something else? Country music sensation and philanthropist Dolly Parton offers a possible answer to these questions, coincidentally in a song bearing the same title as Sam’s:

“Silver and gold might buy you a home, but things of the world they won’t last you long…”

For so very many residents in Naples and Southwest Florida, the experience described in her song is real, poignantly so. Because of the widespread damage and destruction, time has moved as if in a marathon, rather than at a sprinter’s pace.

It’s a reminder when life is hard—go easy on yourself and others, especially in the aftermath of this devastating storm.

So many people have faced unexpected and incredibly difficult challenges. Where do you turn if you don’t have a home, a car, electricity (fortunately, mostly restored by FPL and out of area linemen, at least in Naples) and nearby hotels or other shelters are at capacity?

Early post-Ian statistics showed that some 20,000 residences were uninhabitable in Lee County; 2,500 in Collier County, so finding housing for all displaced is daunting.

Like the legendary Rudolph, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood also first aired in the ’60s. An enduring lesson from this classic show taught us to “look for the helpers”, and there have been no shortage of people rallying together, lending comfort and care to people who were traumatized by Hurricane Ian.

For those who have lost so much, whether their home or businesses, or material possessions including vehicles, boats, or simply the “stuff of life,” it may be helpful and hopeful to look for the silver linings.

That’s not always easy when a lifetime of cherished treasures are soaking wet or destroyed, but it’s possible when others surround you and lift you up.

One silver lining is a heightened sense of compassion and concern for our neighbors, and even strangers. To all, a common greeting these days is “How are you doing,” always followed by “Do you need anything?”

Just as we must take care of ourselves, this helps boost our personal sense of optimism and hopefulness when we lend a hand or ear to others in need, whenever possible.

This holiday season, the real tinsel and ore is not limited to the decorations Sam sang about. It includes all the people who are as good as gold, enriching the lives around us. They help others face arduous times and make silver linings shine bright this season—brave, calm, coping, optimistic and supportive Neapolitans coming together, all the way to and through 2023.

Follow Karen Coney Coplin on Instagram at @naplesbythenumbers for colorful images of life in Naples and other local stories.

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