This holiday season has been different for me so far, because it’s the first time in my entire life that I likely won’t be spending Christmas with my parents. My mom got a job in a different state last August, and my dad moved down there with her in October when he sold their house here, and that’s the last time I saw either of my parents. Flights to their new place are somewhat quick, and not terribly expensive, but coordinating the trip is the main issue. Due to everyone’s job situation, the likelihood of seeing my parents this Christmas is rather low. There’s a chance they’ll be coming here for Christmas, but it’s a super super small one.
I’m used to seeing my mom basically whenever I want. She has never lived more than half an hour from me, and now she lives almost 10 hours away! It’s been a little bit of a tough transition that I’m still adjusting to, but I do have some tips to make the holidays away from family a little bit easier.
Spending the Holidays away from Family: A Guide
Make Time for Conversation
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!
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. I also have to be careful I send the gifts out early enough in advance so they arrive on time.
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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, and don’t scold yourself for not being enough of an “adult.”
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.
There’s tons of memories, especially from my childhood, and I could go on but… I won’t.
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!