For a lot of us, part of this whole “growing up” thing includes deciding to move away from home. Whether it’s a few cities, a couple states, or an entire cross-country move, the decision feels huge, exciting, and terrifying all at once. As in love as you are with your new hometown, when that first holiday season rolls around and you realize your bank account is still recovering from the move, and it’s important to get settled and establish yourself in your new city – the heartbreak hits. You will not make it home this year. Not for Thanksgiving, not for Christmas, not for New Year’s.
Oof, that’s heavy stuff. Swallow the lump forming in your throat, it will be ok. So, you’re spending your first holiday season away from home? How do you deal? There are a few hurdles to get over first, so let’s get ready to jump.
Telling Your Family
This is the hard part. Like, the REALLY hard part. Maybe you realized weeks ago that you would not make it work this year, but you haven’t plucked up the courage to call and let your parents/grandparents/closest relatives know. Stalling will not make it any easier, so this is the part where you have to rip off the proverbial band-aid and be honest with your loved ones.
On the bright side, if your family supported your move, chances are they will understand all the weird crazy things that come along with that move. They will be sad and tell you they’ll miss you, which they will, but they will be supportive and understanding. You might both cry a little on the phone, and that’s ok. Having the support and understanding of the people you want to be around most makes this a lot easier.
But, be warned, you might not get a warm reception to this idea. Your family might mean well, but try to guilt you into coming anyway, even if it doesn’t make financial or personal sense.
Try to explain, calmly, to your family you would spend time with them if you could, but unfortunately, it’s just not in the financial cards this year. When they offer to pay for your gas or buy your plane ticket, thank them for their offer, and try a new angle. Explain that you really appreciate that, but it’s about more than the lack of funds. Maybe you started a new job you are hoping to turn into a long-term career and they require you to be around the day after Christmas.
Explain that it’s important to you to make a good impression at your new gig as a team player and hard worker who is committed to the company and the position. Make sure your family knows you want to be with them, and that you don’t plan on this being an every-year occurrence (and it shouldn’t be!), but you really need them to support you on it this year. More likely, they will see your point and help you feel supported in your decision. Cue the sigh of relief.
So you’ve told your family, and they were unbelievably sweet about it all. You feel way better knowing they will not disown you for missing one round of holidays. Then you realize you won’t be able to hog the cranberry jelly, you can’t make a wish on the wishbone, you won’t get to see your favorite goofy uncle make a fool of himself when his football team loses. You will miss the one-present-Christmas-eve thing and your stocking won’t be hung up with all the others.
Family traditions are some of the best parts of the holidays, it’s true, but if you can’t be home, all is not lost! If you’re living with your significant other or spouse, try each picking your favorite tradition from your family holidays and do your best to recreate that with the two of you. If there’s a dish you can’t live without, ask your family how to make it. And, here’s the cool part – now’s your chance to create a new tradition. Pick something weird/fun/delicious to incorporate into your holiday and get excited about your new tradition. For example, my boyfriend and I are buying a new Christmas ornaments each year we’re together. It’s a fun way to mark “our” holiday and it will make it a little easier when we aren’t hanging up ornaments with our families this year.
Bad news? There’s really no way to totally combat this one. Missing your family will suck a bit. Good news? We live in a technology age. You can absolutely Skype, FaceTime, or at the least, give your family a ring when everyone is together. That way you’ll feel a little more like you’re home even when you’re not. And yes, crying together is again acceptable. As long as you end the phone call laughing and full of love, you will be just fine.
See? We knew you could make it through. Now save for next year so you don’t have to miss grandma’s buttery garlic mashed potatoes two years in a row, and plan to bring your new traditions to the table when you can all be together again.