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It’s okay to spend the holidays away from home

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This year, for the first time ever, my family is not spending the holidays together. I, being unable to fly 3,000 miles for just a few days, did not go home for Thanksgiving and my sister, spending it with her boyfriend, will be away for Christmas. This really bothered me at first. We’ve never spent the holidays away from each other, are we really going to break that streak after 20 years? Eventually I came to grips with it; we are all adults now and this is bound to happen. We will spend the holidays together when we can, but we have to start forming our own traditions and including other loved ones. Even after I came to accept that, I struggled getting through the actual day without them. After it all, I realized I was being kind of silly.  Here are some tips so your holidays away from home aren’t wasted.

You did nothing wrong, don’t feel guilty

It’s easy to feel guilty about this, especially if it’s the first time, but you need to do your best to not let it get to you. If it didn’t happen this year, it would happen another. There is nothing wrong about spending the holidays away from home, so there is no reason you should feel guilty! Even if some family members feel otherwise.

Create a tradition for yourself

When spending the holiday in a brand new way, it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit. Find something that you can do every year for yourself to make it feel like the holiday season, whether it is making a specific recipe, going on a hike, or something relaxing like a bubble bath. The first year or two it probably won’t feel like a real holiday tradition (unless you borrow a tradition from your family) but that’s how traditions get made, and years later you’ll be thankful.

The holidays aren’t that big of a deal

In the end, the holidays are just another day. It’s not necessary for it to be spectacular or perfect. Chances are, if you were back home plenty of things would still go wrong. Don’t build it up to be more than it is. If something went wrong this year, you’ll get another chance to do it right next year.

Try to do one special thing

The last tip sounds a little cynical. I’m not a Grinch, so this tip is to try and do at least one thing for the holiday. If you’re unable to be with your family, then try to see any other friends or loved ones. If it turns out that you’ll spend the day alone, then do something on your own; make yourself a nice dinner, go out to a restaurant, or volunteer at a shelter. The day doesn’t need to be amazing, but it doesn’t have to suck either.

Call home

Even if you can’t be there, call your family and talk to them. Trust me this is the most comforting thing you can do. Skype them if you can, so you can talk and see everyone at once (much nicer than family members passing the phone around and you answering the same questions over and over). If there is a particular tradition you are bummed about missing, ask them to wait until you can call so then you can still be a part of it.

It’s okay to enjoy yourself

This one is most important. You don’t need to spend the day moping just because you’re not home. Enjoy what’s going on around you. Wallowing all day won’t make you feel any better about being away from home.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Kate Casler can be reached at kcasler@student.umass.edu.

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