I Won't Be Home for Christmas

Monday, 23 December 2019
Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year. For some, it is filled with happy memories, delicious foods, and family traditions. For many, it symbolises the one time of year the families busy schedules are put on hold so everyone can celebrate together. But what do you do when you're not home for Christmas? Sometimes it's a choice. Sometimes it's not. Either way, you may find yourself missing family, friends, and traditions. 


Living in another country can bring about some interesting feelings this time of year. Christmas has always held a special place in my heart. And the inability to be with my family often leaves me feeling extreme guilt. I love living in Australia. Even more so, I love this time of year. I love the different holiday traditions that are celebrated. But I miss my family. I miss white Christmases. I miss getting to see the excitement on my nephew's faces when they walk down the stairs and see all the presents under the tree.

It seems as though the guilt of choosing to leave family and friends never goes. From talking to other immigrants, it seems to be a common theme. But acknowledgment of this guilt helps lead to acceptance. It is in this acceptance that one realises that our choices were made for a reason, sometimes out of necessity. This acceptance enables you to take ownership of your actions and turn the guilt of the holiday season into empowerment, creating new traditions. If celebrating with your family is important to you, you can always include them in these ways to cope

1. Accept the Change
This is one of the first steps in coping. At the end of the day, this was your choice. Whether you're unable to get the time off, do not have the financial means to fly to a different country, or immigration prevents you from leaving, you chose this new life path. And that is 100% ok! Do not let anyone in your family make you question your choices. 

Just because you're in a different country does not mean you cannot keep family traditions alive. Or you can always adopt new traditions. Better yet merge traditions from your home country with the traditions of your new country. This can help get over the feelings of isolation and guilt and be an exciting new tradition to share with your family!

2. Volunteer Your Time
Giving back is a time honoured holiday tradition. If you're travelling solo in another country, you may feel isolated and lonely this time of year. Why not give back to the local community? Giving back will help you feel more connected to the city you're in, ensure you're surrounded by people during the holiday and boost your mental health. 

Travelling and it's not the holidays? Volunteering year-round is never a bad idea. Shelters and food kitchens often have an overflow of volunteers during the holiday season but struggle during the rest of the year. Create a holiday tradition to volunteer outside of the holiday time. 

The reindeers visited

3. Communicate with Your Family
Is your family struggling to understand why you won't be home? Be sure to have an open dialogue with them. Helping to ensure they understand your perspective and struggles might help them accept your absence a bit more. When my family is upset I am unable to come home, I always extend the offer to them to visit me. No one has taken me up on this offer; however, I think it helps adjust their viewpoints and creates a deeper understanding of the challenges I may be facing. 

4. Skype with Your Family
Technology is incredible y'all! You can be halfway across the world, and if you have an internet connection, you can see your family. You may not be able to be physically present, but that doesn't mean you can't Facetime with your family during the holidays. This will help them know you're thinking of them and you'll get to see the little one's faces whilst opening presents on Christmas morning.  

5. Send Holiday Cards
What? Snail mail? Do people even still use the post? YUP! Sending a Christmas card is just a small gesture that allows your friends and family to know you're thinking of them. My grandparents love it! It's a concrete form of communication that they can revisit whenever they want. Sending parcels through the mail can be expensive, so this is a cheaper alternative. However, if you're going to send a parcel to the younger members of your family, just ship it directly to their house. This will save on the post fee. 


6. Let Those Emotions Free
Do not sit there and pretend you're not experiencing any emotions. If you're sad, allow yourself the opportunity to feel sad. Feeling guilty, acknowledge it and understand why you're feeling that way. Use your feelings to learn and grow. Don't judge yourself or repress your emotions. The holidays bring about many feelings and denying them is only going to cause more distress. 

7. Stay Present
I get it. The holidays bring about all kinds of nostalgia. But just because you're not at home doesn't mean the holiday is ruined. Reach out to locals or other immigrants who may be in a similar situation to you. Appreciate all you have around you and what you're new life has brought. There will be a number of things to celebrate and be thankful for. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate them. 

Living away from friends and family during the holiday season can be challenging but it doesn't need to be crippling. Finding ways to adapt and create new traditions will help to make Christmas in your new country feel a little bit more like home. And remember, no matter what, never feel guilty for telling your family "I won't be home for Christmas". 


And until next time...
Stay curious!
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