Danielle Elkins: Love for the holidays | CraigDailyPress.com

Danielle Elkins: Love for the holidays

Danielle Elkins

As I’m sitting here reflecting on the busiest year of my life so far, after watching Christmas come to an end while preparing to ring in a new year, I realize that as I’ve grown older and moved away from home, this time of year has changed tremendously for me.

I can’t lie. I love the gift aspect of Christmas — both receiving them and buying them for others. At this point, I’d hate to tell you how much money I’ve spent on Christmas gifts over the years, or how much money has been spent on my Christmas gifts. However, I didn’t have a Christmas wish list this year, and I didn’t buy half the number of gifts that I did last year.

It isn’t that I lost my Christmas spirit. Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I’m confident that will never change.

I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by my family and the friends that I grew up with but this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in three different states. My family has also made lots of exciting changes, including my parents’ big move to Florida. As wonderful as it’s been getting to travel the country, gain new experiences and meet some amazing people, I’ve missed the people who have always made Virginia home for me. And as happy I am for my parents to be living in beautiful, sunny Florida, it’s even harder for me to see them now.

I’ve missed my loved ones so much that it has made me realize how much time I could’ve been spending with them around the holidays when I lived just a few minutes away from them if I hadn’t been so focused on shopping for Christmas gifts and working more to pay for buying so many gifts.

This year, I’m traveled home with only a few Christmas gifts and I asked my family if our Christmas gifts to each other can be to commit to spending as much time together as we possibly can in 2017, even if it’s just on the phone catching up.

Last year, I had a Christmas shopping list a mile long, and a wish list for myself that was even lengthier. This year, I have a heart full of joy because I got to spend Christmas with the people I love, despite the fact that we live in vastly different places now.

No, we didn’t stick to Christmas tradition this year in the sense that we opened gifts and ate at a certain place and time since many of us traveled home from different parts of the country. That’s something I would’ve been upset about just last year but being away from my loved ones has made me realize that tradition is about people rather than things, places and times. It was never opening gifts on Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house or the Christmas decorations that made our Christmas traditions special to me — it was simply our time together.

It’s very easy to get bent out of shape over a gift, traveling or having to go to five Christmas dinners and wondering when you’ll find the time, but it’s important to remember what Christmas is all about — love.

It’s also easy to get hung up in our new year’s resolutions that drag on throughout the year and forget to stop and enjoy our time with loved ones. We seem to always be striving for prosperity but we forget the things that make us prosper most.

Even when life is messy and uncertain, one thing we can all be sure of is that there’s still plenty of love left in the world. Let’s celebrate that in 2017.

I hope you had a merry Christmas, Craig! Cheers to 2017!

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