“There’s no place like home for the holidays…” So true, but what about those of us whose home is across the ocean and a trip back is just not an option? You see extended families coming together to celebrate, cousins reuniting, old friends visiting, yet your own are far away… It’s hard not to feel left out. Well, when in a new culture you have to “fake it, till you make it!” This includes coming up with a “surrogate” family and circle of friends for the time being. So what can you do to warm your heart and those close to you?
1. Decorate your house
Start where you are! Think of what makes you remember the holiday spirit and feel at home: Christmas trees, candles, crackling fireplace, freshly baked cookies… Make your home festive and warm. Burn aroma candles with cinnamon or apple-pie scent. Put a little reminder of the season in every corner of your house. Play holiday tunes on the radio.
2. Join your kids’ school activities
There are always opportunities to help with school activities during the holiday season. Classroom parties, choir performances, and holiday boutiques are plentiful. Lend a hand, bring a tray of cookies, or maybe better yet, make a traditional holiday food from home and share with the class. You will instantly feel like a part of something fun and special and nobody knows holiday spirit better than kids.
3. Go out
Every town, no matter how small, will have holiday traditions that happen every year. From tree lighting ceremonies to Christmas parades, these events always draw a crowd. Visit the neighborhoods with lights on display. Check out local parks and malls. Join the crowd! Joy is contagious and easily shared.
4. Volunteer and donate
Your own blues will not matter as much, when you turn your attention to what others are missing. Take a day to volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a friend wrap gifts for a charity, join a community warm clothes drive… There are plenty of volunteer groups to join. Check out our Volunteer Opportunities page for help finding organizations in your area.
5. Throw a party
You will say: “I don’t know anyone here to invite!” Wrong! Your neighbors would love to meet you, but don’t know how. Open your home for a holiday neighborhood potluck. It’s easy and inexpensive, and is a sure way to find friends right where you live. Invite your kids’ classmates and parents to bake cookies together. Invite some of your or your husband’s coworkers who are also away from home, for a simple meal.
6. Use technology
Skype, Facetime, Facebook, e-mail… Don’t forget to use any way you can to stay connected to your family back home. Being up to date on each other’s lives will make distances less noticeable. If family members are busy, schedule times when you can connect; that way you have some family time to look forward to.
7. Dress up
Pulling out that “once-a-year” outfit can make you feel more festive on any occasion. Make it special, pamper yourself! During the holidays there are plenty of opportunities to dress up, so use them well. Remember, when you look nice you cheer up those around you as well.
8. Be social
Any time you are invited to a holiday event, say “yes”. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know most of the people attending, are unsure of how to fit in, or simply feel like staying in (remember, we started with you having the Holiday Blues?). Push yourself a little and you will be glad you did. You never know where your next tribe is waiting for you!
9. Watch holiday movies
There is a great arsenal of holiday themed movies to cozy you up. Make yourself a cup of tea, throw a warm quilt on the couch and dissolve in the beautiful stories of love, sharing and forgiveness on the screen.
And if none of the above works…
10. Keep an open mind
Don’t be hard on yourself and think that this stage will last forever. Any day you do something to make yourself feel better, is a good day. Take your time and do your best and you will find it much easier the next time around.