I've been thinking about the holidays lately - with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all within one month of each other and Valentines Day and Easter around the corner, why not?

I LOVE the holidays. I am that one person who bakes like crazy, wears a festive outfit, sings songs, and makes crafts for every holiday. I am also that one person who walks into Target and has a panic attack looking at holiday themed trinkets. I think the holidays are a perfect time to remind us to celebrate life and stop and smell the roses. It reminds us to spend time with the people we love. It reminds us of what REALLY matters in life.

So here I am, thinking about the symbolic meanings of each holiday and they are all quite similar: praise God, be thankful, love the ones around you, take pride in your people and your country, and so on. But then a metaphorical bell rang above my head. The symbolic meanings behind holidays should be apart of us everyday.

If you are apart of a religion, you should praise God daily! God should be apart of your daily life. That doesn't mean living at church, praying five times a day and memorizing the bible but that means keeping God in mind at all times. Thanksgiving gives us an excuse to gain five pounds and take a few extra days off work, but we should be thankful for what we have all the time! I've learned it is very important to be grateful for what you have because the best things in life aren't things. And Valentines Day is the perfect day to give your significant other flowers and chocolates, but you shouldn't love someone just a few days of the year.

Valentines day is coming up, and I noticed that when I walked into Target and there was heart shaped candies, and cute crafty tupperware all around the store. I like festive decorations and gifts, so naturally, I was excited. My boyfriend Andrew was laughing because I literally was freaking out at the sight of V-day baking materials, and a super cute "I love you a latte!" coffee mug. We both love Valentines Day because we are always enthusiastic about every single holiday but then we realized it. Everyday is valentines day. I always surprise him with coffee and he surprises me with soup. We always spend time together, compliments and sweet talk is apart of normal conversation and romance is apart of every single day. Valentines Day just gives humanity a wake up call, just as every holiday does!

This past Christmas I didn't tell anyone what I wanted because I think there's no element of surprise or thought into it then. It's all about I WANT, money, and tradition. I wanted my mom to go shopping and think, "Aw, Maria would want this because she's always liked ____." I wanted people to see things and think, "This reminds me of Maria! I must get this." Instead of: "Maria put this on her shopping list. Let me search every store in town for it." When I opened my presents from family and friends, I loved every single one because it came from the heart. They actually put thought into it and that meant a whole lot to me. And out of all the presents my family got me, I only returned one! (they were generic Ugg boots, haha.)

I realize we are all human and we can't always be thankful, always please our loved ones, and always be a saint.

But, we can try.

Happy holidays to you all, and have a great 2014.

Love, Maria Elena

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