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How to Celebrate the Holidays When You’re Far from Family

By NJ Rongner
November 30, 2016
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Celebrating the holidays when you don’t live near your family can be really tough. I know first hand  how hard it can be – if we wanted to spend the holidays with my family, we’d have to travel by plane to get there and doing so isn’t in the budget every year. My husband and I have forged our own path for the holidays. We’ve figured out how to do it in a way that leaves us connected with far away relatives and feeling joyous about all the season has to offer.  I’m pleased to share what we’ve done with you today.

Use technology.

If you can’t be there in person to celebrate the holidays with your family, try setting up a time to video chat with those loved ones. My favorite part of any holiday gathering is the conversation that happens around the table. I like to call in during the meal and listen in on the the family stories and jokes.

Arrange a time to video chat ahead of time, especially if your family is loud and chatty. They might miss your phone call otherwise!

Celebrate with friends nearby

It can be really hard to know that your loved ones aren’t going to join you for the holidays. Lean into your community and celebrate with people who are close by. In the past, we’ve joined the parents of close friends for dessert after the main family meal and hosted another family in our home. Both have been lovely and it was really special to share a meaningful day with them.

Or if you’re feeling up for it, contact your local college. Often time, foreign exchange students aren’t able to travel for holidays and breaks either. Perhaps you’ll even learn about how a different culture celebrates! And, if they’re offering to cook for you, take them up on it!

Start a new tradition.

As a kid, holiday meals were a big production with every family contributing pot luck style. I loved getting to take a little bit of all of my favorite foods. As an adult living far away from those big meals, I’ve tried replicating it. But, I ended up with way too much food for my family of four here in New England. So, instead of making a huge holiday meal, we order take out. I look forward to it just as much as I did that big meal. If your childhood traditions aren’t ones that can be easily replicated, it’s okay to do something new!

Maybe, instead of celebrating at your home you could contact a community based organization to volunteer at. Many host holiday dinners and need people to help serve their guests.

Remember, a holiday is just a date on the calendar.

When we do have a chance to get together with our far away family, we celebrate! A holiday celebration can happen any time of year, not just when the calendar says it should. So, if the only time you can unwrap holiday gifts together face to face is in June, do it! What matters most is that you’re together and celebrating the spirit of the season, whenever that is.  

Celebrating the holidays when you’re far away from your family can be hard, but it can be done! What is your favorite way to stay connected during the holidays?

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