Unfortunately, it is not always possible to spend the holiday season with your family.
In 2018, my parents moved to a different state. I am an only child who has never lived more than 45 minutes away from my mom. And now, she lives almost 10 hours away!
With my family’s job situation, getting enough time off around the holidays isn’t always feasible. So we have had to make some adjustments to how we spend our holiday season, but that’s okay.
Spending the Holidays away from Family: A Guide
My family and I have a family group text chat that we talk to each other in. We’ve always had this, but before we mostly used it to coordinate meeting up for dinner. Now that my parents live in a different state, we use it a lot more to catch up and share our daily lives with each other. This works well for my family because we’re all introverts and we aren’t really talk on the phone people. We also have drastically different work schedules and it’s WAY easier to let each person reply at their own pace.
I usually share random information a few times a week in the group chat just to keep my family up to date on what’s going on. My parents don’t really use social media, except for Facebook… and I barely use that anymore. We sent each other Christmas tree pictures, Thanksgiving pictures, and we’re constantly sending each other cat pictures. It definitely helps me still feel connected, even though they’re 600 miles away!
Another good option is FaceTime conversations if you like the face-to-face contact!
Take Care when Selecting Gifts
For the past several years, I’ve wrapped my parents’ gifts and just given them to them for Christmas, but this year I had to be a lot more careful about what I’m purchasing because I don’t want anything to get damaged or broken in the mail!
It’s also a lot harder to gauge what they actually want since I don’t see them all the time, and can’t pick up on what they want! My family is small, so we like to create wishlists for each other and then we can pick and choose what we get the other person.
Also, make sure you take cost and shipping time into account when you’re sending out presents.
Allow Yourself to Feel
It’s okay to feel sad or out of place if you’re spending the holidays away from family, especially if it’s your first time. You need to give yourself time to process your emotions.
When my parents first moved, I had no idea how to feel and it didn’t fully register that some holiday traditions would be broken. I’m still up and down with my emotions about their move, if I’m being honest! Be kind to yourself.
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get used to spending the holidays away from family, because it’s all I’ve known for over two decades! Give yourself plenty of time.
If you’re the one who is away, keep yourself busy. If you’re at school, don’t be afraid to reach out to other people on campus who are away from their families too. They might feel similarly to you, or at least wouldn’t mind the extra company. If you’re in a new city, try going out and experiencing some of the traditions in your city.
Start a New Tradition
If you can, try to start a new holiday tradition with your family! This could be something as simple as swapping snail mail Christmas cards, or you could get your family members a themed gift each year.
This is something I want to do, but am still trying to work on how to fully implement it! If you do this, try to make it something that’s special for your family.
Reflect on Good Memories
I’ve been thinking a lot about past holidays and focusing on happy memories! They make me feel… warm, honestly, which I know is cliche but it’s how I feel! If I wasn’t spending the holidays away from family, I don’t think these memories would feel as “special” because I’d be taking them for granted.
Some of the memories themselves are foggy, but I do remember how I felt. I always feel a certain… weightlessness around this time of year. When I was growing up, I was involved with church choir, where I would sing Christmas songs with my mom and my grandma. I also remember waking up on Christmas morning and opening presents from my parents, then making the drive to my grandparents’ house for more presents and A HUGE MEAL, and I’d get to spend time with all my grandparents’ cats.
Are you spending the holidays away from family this year? Or maybe you’re the one who moved! Let me know in the comments how you’ll be spending your holidays!
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