Posted by Louisa Heath on December 15th, 2016.
There are few seasonal holidays as universal and all-pervasive as Christmas, and it’s one of those times of year that the expat blues can really begin to sink in. When you and your relatives are on opposite sides of an international boundary or two it can be hard to stave off the loneliness and really get into the spirit of things. Assuming, of course, that yours isn’t one of those families that goes to war over the post-turkey board games.
So, if you can’t make it back to your home town for Christmas, here’s a couple of ideas to help you make it through the holiday season without getting blue.
Sometimes the families we create are just as good as the ones we’re born into, so with that in mind, why not have Christmas with your local surrogate family? Admittedly this one only works if everyone you know isn’t already busy with their own seasonal plans, but you never know, it might turn out that some of them are just as short on holiday companionship as you are. This could really be the case if you happen to be friends with other expats in the area who aren’t able to spend the day with their relatives. Honestly, sometimes spending the day with your good friends can be a lot easier than having to put up with your more trying family members, you may even find that you prefer this route!
While it wasn’t so long ago that the only way to keep in touch with the rest of your family was either via post or the phone, the advent of the Internet has made things a lot simpler. So long as you’ve got a good connection, there’s no excuse not to set up a video call, with plenty of free apps and programs to choose from. Arrange a time which works for both parties, maybe try to coordinate your Christmas dinners and see if the cracker jokes are just as bad in Auckland as they are in Aberdeen. This can also be a great way to get a first-hand reaction if you’ve posted presents to each other, and save on the thank-you notes. Just so long as the parents are tech-savvy enough to pick up, that is!
Christmas, at its core, is all about giving so what better way to share in the spirit of the holiday than by giving the gift of your own time? If you have a look around there’s sure to be plenty of volunteering opportunities about, even if you’re living in a more rural locale see if there’s any elderly folks in the area without someone to keep them company who might appreciate a visit. Soup kitchens are also a great place to give your time to, with Christmas lunch being an especially busy time. Think of it as killing two birds with one stone, solving your own loneliness as well as somebody else’s.
Sometimes the best strategy can be to avoid the season entirely if you feel like Christmas just isn’t Christmas without your relatives there with you. So, assuming that’s really getting you down at this time of year, why not swear off the occasion entirely? Yes, this is one of those seasons that seems to be everywhere, particularly in countries like the US and Canada, but it’s not necessarily too hard to avoid things without having to turn into a total Scrooge. Rather than boarding up the house and hiding from the festivities, try taking a holiday. If you head off somewhere warm or exotic Christmas fever is a lot less likely to weigh on your mind, and you might even end up making everyone else suitably jealous to boot!
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